Recovering from a stroke
Jatin Shah, MD, is a director of neurology and stroke services at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center. His office can be reached at (623) 972-3800.
Question: Is it possible to recover from a stroke?
Answer: Every stroke is different, as is every recovery. Since the impact is dependent on such factors as the size of the stroke, location of the blood clot, age and overall health, it’s difficult to provide a clear cut answer as to whether a person can recover. What I can tell you is that individuals who get immediate medical intervention and go through rehabilitation have the best stroke recovery outcomes.
Anyone experiencing stroke symptoms like sudden speech problems, headache, dizziness, weakness and numbness, vision problems and vomiting should go to an emergency department for observation and treatment. However, they should not drive themselves. Driving yourself to the hospital while experiencing stroke symptoms endangers everyone on the road.
The goal is to get to the hospital and begin treatment within three hours of symptom onset. Patients arriving within that three-hour window who exhibit certain stroke symptoms are given a series of tests to evaluate their condition. If hemorrhage is not detected through a cat scan and blood tests and the patient is a candidate, he or she will be given a tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, a medication to help break up the blood clot. Most hospitals, including Banner Thunderbird, have specific protocols that speed up the care process for stroke patients.
Once stabilized, the patient is admitted to the ICU for 24 hours of observation to ensure the medication is working and that the patient doesn’t experience any further complications. If all goes well, the patient is then moved to a regular inpatient room for monitoring and to begin the rehabilitation process.
Stroke rehabilitation can last indefinitely and varies from person to person. Common stroke rehabilitation regimens include physical, occupational and/or speech therapy services.
In addition to rehabilitative therapy, stroke recovery may also include daily medication to prevent future strokes. The two most common stroke-prevention medication therapies include taking one baby aspirin daily or a blood thinner like plavix.
Talk to your doctor. Based on your age and overall health condition, you may benefit from taking these stroke prevention medications even if you’ve never suffered a stroke.