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Hard work, dedication can help you overcome stroke

Posted: 7:05 AM, Oct 15, 2019
Updated: 2019-10-15 08:05:53-04

ORLANDO, Fla. — After a stroke, you might experience paralysis, numbness, depression and problems with memory, speech, understanding and attention. But it is possible to recover with hard work and dedication.

Someone in America has a stroke every 40 seconds. According to the CDC, stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability. But only 10% of survivors fully recover. So, how can you maximize your recovery?

Start ASAP! Rehabilitation can start 24 to 48 hours after a stroke. Dr. S. Tom Carmichael, Ph.D., Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, says to focus on the hard parts.

“So, if you’re having trouble with reach and grasp of the arm, the key is to not let that dangle and open the peanut butter jar just with your good hand but to actively engage and try to use your hand in meaningful tasks,” said Carmichael.

“There are certain few things that may make things worse, and that’s if you strengthen some of the muscles that are preserved." — Dr. S. Tom Carmichael

A strict physical and occupational therapy schedule should show results in the first four months, and many patients continue therapy up to two years after their stroke. But be careful, some things can slow recovery.

“There are certain few things that may make things worse, and that’s if you strengthen some of the muscles that are preserved," Carmichael said. "I’ve had patients who will do a lot of arm curls, and that’s actually the wrong thing to strengthen because there’s a natural mismatch.”

Stroke recovery apps such as Medisafe, Constant Therapy and Elevate help with workouts, reminders, speech and cognitive therapy.

Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine have developed a novel stroke therapy that works better than the standard of care when tested in mice and dogs. Phase one clinical trials are the next step.