Posts Tagged ‘stroke recovery’

Takeaways from Dr. Belagaje’s Stroke Recovery Live Chat

Stroke Recovery ChatThank you to everyone who joined us on May 28, for our live chat on Stroke Recovery. There were some great questions and we hope you found stroke neurologist, Dr. Samir Belagaje’s discussion informative. If you missed the chat, feel free to review the full chat transcript.

There was such a good response, we didn’t have time to address all of the questions you submitted during the chat, so we will answer those below:

Question: What other things can be done besides going to a recovery center?

Samir BelagajeDr. Belagaje: Certainly one can develop a home exercise/rehabilitation plan and continue to work on improving their stroke related deficits in that fashion. However, I strongly recommend that stroke recovery be completed under the guidance of a health care expert in that area or going to a stroke recovery center. They can look at medications which may be adversely affecting the recovery process, start new ones, screen/treat for depression, and provide opportunities to participate in clinical trials which would allow one to get access to latest technology and developments.

Question: Does the brain actually recover from a stroke or are you just ‘retraining’ different parts of your brain? How is it recovering?

Samir BelagajeDr. Belagaje: Great question! People recover from stroke in 3 major ways:

  • Adaptation– In this method, people just “learn to live with deficits” and find ways to adapt or get along with them. Examples would be the use of prisms in eye glasses for post-stroke visual problems or using a cane/walker to help with walking. Another example would be for a person to learn to feed themselves with their opposite hand
  • Regeneration– this involves growing new brain cells and them getting to the area of stroke and repairing that area. This is the way that stem cells and other biotherapeutics may help. It is an exciting area for stroke recovery research.
  • Rewiring– this is probably the major way of stroke recovery in the brain and the mechanism most therapy is geared towards. It is also the way that you are alluding to in your question when you talk about “retraining different parts of the brain”. Most therapy is geared towards getting those undamaged parts of the brain to rewire and take over the function of the damaged portions

Question: My dad lives in the UK and suffered a stroke. What can he do to help himself?

Samir BelagajeDr. Belagaje: Sorry to hear about your father. It really depends how long ago his stroke was and what kind of deficits he has post-stroke. In general terms, he should continue to stay as active as possible and continue to work on his deficits with therapy/rehab team. I would also encourage family and close friends to monitor for post-stroke depression symptoms and alert his health care providers if they notice depression symptoms.

Question: How do you regain normal vision after stroke?

Samir BelagajeDr. Belagaje: Admittedly, post-stroke vision deficits are challenging as we don’t have as good and effective and proven visual rehab therapy/techniques compared to some other deficits. If her stroke is greater than 6 months, I would recommend seeing a neuro-ophthalmologist for possible prisms in the glasses (this would be an adaptation technique I mentioned in an answer to another question). In addition, working with an occupational therapist (OT) may also help to improve visual field deficits and develop compensation techniques.

 

 

 

Former College Football Player Makes a Comeback after Stroke Recovery

Patient David Jacobs & the Jacobs FamilyAs a defensive tackle on the University of Georgia’s football team, David Jacobs was at the top of his game, physically and mentally. But in November 2001, everything changed.

Jacobs had been feeling strange all week, even missing two football practices – a rarity for a player with his level of devotion. He’d had headaches and felt dizzy and lethargic. He chalked it up to his demanding schedule and dehydration. Hoping to play in the upcoming Ole Miss game, Jacobs headed back to practice, only to take a particularly hard hit that left the right side of his body numb and tingling – hallmark symptoms of stroke. Just minutes later, Jacobs became unconscious and unresponsive in the training room.

Jacobs was rushed to a local Athens hospital, where diagnostic tests revealed that David would need advanced care for a stroke. He was transported by helicopter to Emory University Hospital, Atlanta’s first Comprehensive Stroke Center. David learned that he’d had an occlusion in his vertebral artery, which serves as a major supplier of blood to the brain. A blood clot followed developed, disrupting blood flow to the brain. When the brain doesn’t receive enough blood, a stroke occurs.

“I went from working hard everyday on the field to having a stroke, just like that,” Jacobs recalls.

At one point, the prognosis was grim. While he was unable to talk, eat or walk, David’s family prayed by his bedside that his condition would improve so that he wouldn’t have to undergo risky surgery. Their prayers were answered.

“I remember that bit by bit, we began to see signs that he was starting to improve,” says Desiree Jacobs, David’s wife, who was his girlfriend at the time of his stroke. “If there’s one thing to know about David, it’s that he’s a fighter, not just on the field, but in all areas of his life. Surviving this was no different for him.”

David spent a month in Emory University Hospital’s Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit. From there, he moved to Emory’s Center for Rehabilitation Medicine, a multidisciplinary center that provides ongoing care for patients who have undergone a stroke or spinal cord injury, or individuals with neurological damage, musculoskeletal problems, pain, amputations and chronic disease. There, he would spend three months learning to walk, eat and do the basic things that used to come so easily to an athlete of his caliber. His care team consisted of physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists, case managers, dietitians, doctors and nurses, all whom had a hand in David’s recovery.

Looking back, of the many things David had learned, listening to his body has been the most essential.

“My body had been warning me that something wasn’t right,” David says. “It’s important to know the signs of stroke, like a sudden severe headache, trouble speaking and numbness so that you can get treatment right away.”

Now nearly 11 years later, David is married with two young sons and works full time as an account manager in the mortgage industry. Tall and athletic, David certainly looks the part of former football player. But, the role he’s most proud of? Stroke survivor. Learn more about David’s journey in the video below:

Read more about David’s story on espn.com and UGA’s athletics website.

Related Resources:

Become Aware of the Risks, Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

Dr. Fadi Nahab, stroke director at Emory University Hospital and Emory University Hospital Midtown, recently conducted a chat to address the signs and symptoms of stroke, as well as what you can do to decrease your risk. Dr. Nahab’s timing couldn’t be better. May is National Stroke Awareness Month – the perfect time to brush up on your knowledge of stroke and commit to reducing your own risk factors for stroke.

Stroke remains the country’s leading cause of disability. Fortunately, Emory Healthcare is committed to providing excellent stroke care throughout North Georgia. In fact, Emory University Hospital recently was named Atlanta’s first certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, while Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory Johns Creek Hospital and Saint Joseph’s Hospital all are certified Primary Stroke Centers.