Stroke Rehabilitation

A stroke, or cerebral vascular accident (CVA), occurs when blood supply in the brain is disrupted.  Some people may also refer to a stroke as a “brain attack.” There are primary types of stroke: Ischemic and Hemorrhagic.

Ischemic Strokes

These strokes occur when there is inadequate blood flow to the brain due to some type of blockage inside a blood vessel.  Another term for the subtypes of ischemic stroke is “infarct.”  When the blood flow is reduced or stopped due to a blockage, the brain cells surrounding the vessel are not provided enough oxygen to work right.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is also known as a “mini stroke.” During TIAs, the blockage in the vessel is only temporary, and symptoms may subside within a few hours. However, a “mini stroke” or TIA indicates a serious underlying issue that may be treated to prevent future risk of a full stroke. If a person arrives at the emergency room within three hours of the first symptoms of an ischemic stroke, treatment with a thrombolytic medication can occur that may reduce long-term effects of the stroke.

Hemorrhagic Strokes

These types of strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain bursts and floods the surrounding brain tissue with blood.This can happen during trauma or as a result of an aneurysm. An aneurysm is a malformation of the blood vessel, which is prone to bursting.

Many people with aneurysm have symptoms prior to the vessel bursting. Some aneurysms can be repaired with surgery prior to bursting. Once a blood vessel bursts in the brain, there are rarely any medications that can be used, and brain surgery may be required to stop further damage. 

Statistics:

  • Every 40 seconds someone in the U.S. has a stroke – 795,000 people per year
  • Direct and indirect cost of stroke in 2010 was $53.9 billion.
  • 15% die shortly after stroke.
  • 10% recover almost completely.
  • 25% recover with mild impairment.
  • 40% have moderate to severe impairment requiring special care.
  • 10% require a long-term care facility.

Risk Factors:

  • Family history
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Overweight
  • Tobacco use
  • Race/ethnicity
  • Previous stroke or TIA
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Age (over age 65 males are at higher risk than females)

Stroke Rehabilitation

  • Medical stabilization comes first.
  • Depending on medical status, therapies could possible begin within 24 hours.
  • Early rehabilitation has been shown to enhance recovery and minimize functional disability.
  • Length of rehabilitation depends on severity of stroke, motivation, skill of the treatment professionals, support network, timing and more.