Thursday, March 05, 2015

Singing for stroke survivors

Back years ago, I felt it one Sunday morning.

Photo by lungstruck via Flickr
I'm a longtime, hymnal-using United Methodist. So one Sunday morning several months after my stroke, during a worship service, I sang along with everyone else, standing and holding a hymnal.

And suddenly, I felt like my language skills had gained a notch. This wasn't the first time I felt that way, but it was the first time while singing.

Now, here's a more recent story from across the pond on how how stroke survivors can sing:
One Voice was was set up in 2008 by Lorna Bickley and Katy Bennett as a community choir for people who had suffered strokes. Singing helps recovery of movement, memory, breathing, speaking - and confidence.
The phenomenon was first documented in Sweden in the early 18th Century when a young man who couldn't speak due to brain damage amazed the congregation at his local church by loudly singing along to hymns.
The American Stroke Association reported "the acquired language disorder now called aphasia became a subject of clinical study and a target for rehabilitation beginning in the mid-1880s".
"Since that time, every clinician working with aphasia has seen individuals who can produce words only when singing."

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

To avoid stroke risk, sleep like Goldilocks?

Wait around long enough, and you'll find research supporting almost anything you want. Maybe.

Almost a year ago, a study found lack of sleep raises stroke risk. As someone who enjoys sleep, I thought this was great news.

Now, another study finds that sleeping too much may increase stroke risk:
And those who transitioned from averaging less than 6 hours of nightly shut-eye to more than 8 hours had the highest risk, with close to a fourfold increase in stroke risk compared with people who consistently averaged 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night.
"We don't know yet whether long sleep is a cause, consequence, or early marker of ill health. More research is needed to understand the relationship between long sleep and stroke," said PhD candidate Yue Leng, of the University of Cambridge in England, in a written statement.
The study adds to the growing body of evidence on the ties between sleep and stroke risk.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Reducing stroke risk with diet - what's the latest?

You are, the old saying says, what you eat.

Several years ago, that line was used to promote a low-fat diet. The reasoning was that if you eat fat, you'll get fat. Then came Dr. Atkins, high-fat, low-carb diets. Then more refined (and often fad) diets - high protein, low fat, low carbs, no sugar, paleo, vegan, etc. Eggs were bad, now are good. Milk was good and now, supposedly, is bad.

I still drink milk, however.

The latest target is sugar. But like fat, will we find out that certain sugars are good for you, while others are bad? When I had my stroke fat was bad. Then fish oil (aka fat) became good for you and now we buy Omega 3 pills. So will experts someday identify a sugar called, say, Ceti Alpha 5, that's good for you while other sugars are bad?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Recent stroke stats show we've got a lot of work remaining

Men are more likely to die of a stoke than women. And black men are in danger the most. I'm signed up to receive reports from the U.S.Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and these nuggets of information came through.

None of these numbers are shocking. Numbers seem to be in a slow downward trend, but still too high. Here's a link and excerpt to the report under the category of QuickStats:
During 2000–2013, age-adjusted death rates for stroke for all racial/ethnic groups decreased steadily. Non-Hispanic white males had the largest decline (41.7%), and Hispanic females had the smallest (35.8%). Throughout the period, the rate for non-Hispanic black was the highest among the racial/ethnic groups examined, followed by non-Hispanic white and Hispanic populations. The rate for males was higher than that for females in each racial/ethnic group.
Now, how do make these numbers better?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Great story of personal, medical advances for stroke survivors

I like personal stories. I like stories about advances in stroke treatment and prevention.

So, I really enjoyed this one - a story from a London journalist who revisited the hospital that treated him 20 years ago.

I survived a stroke 20 years ago. Now a revolution in care is under way:

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Do we fall into the Raymond Babbitt trap judging our own driving?

Did you drive after your stroke? Immediately? A month? Longer? Ever?

I drove fairly soon after mine, but driving didn't seem to be part of my concerns. I had trouble reading smaller print and lengthy items, but traffic signs and signals didn't present a challenge.

But that isn't true for everyone. Or maybe even most. Perhaps I was just fortunate in my particular case. One recent study indicates that stroke survivors more likely to make dangerous driving errors:
"Current guidelines recommend that patients should refrain from driving for a minimum of one month after stroke. However, many patients resume driving within the one-month period after stroke, and few patients report receiving driving advice from a physician immediately post-stroke," said Megan A. Hird, B.Sc., lead author of one of the abstracts and a master's student at University of Toronto doing research at St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Canada.
Hird and colleagues (abstract TP123) compared the driving performance of 10 mild ischemic stroke patients, within seven days of a stroke, to 10 people similar in age and education who had not had stroke. Using driving simulation technology, participants completed several driving tasks, from routine right and left turns to more demanding left turns with traffic, where most accidents occur, and a bus following task, requiring sustained attention.
They found:

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Too much alcohol could raise your stroke risk

One of this blog's little mantras you might pick up on: Moderation, moderation, moderation.

You can't live in a vacuum, but you can take some wise actions to reduce your stroke risk, including not eliminating but monitoring your alcohol intake. Check out this recent story how too much alcohol at midlife raises stroke risk, study finds:
People who average more than two drinks a day have a 34 percent higher risk of stroke compared to those whose daily average amounts to less than half a drink, according to findings published Jan. 29 in the journal Stroke.
Researchers also found that people who drink heavily in their 50s and 60s tend to suffer strokes earlier in life than light drinkers or non-imbibers.
"Our study showed that drinking more than two drinks per day can shorten time to stroke by about five years," said lead author Pavla Kadlecova, a statistician at St. Anne's University Hospital International Clinical Research Center in the Czech Republic.
The enhanced stroke risk created by heavy drinking rivals the risk posed by high blood pressure or diabetes, the researchers concluded. By age 75, however, blood pressure and diabetes became better predictors of stroke.