Thursday, April 29, 2010

Out with the old - in with the new

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

As Stroke Awareness Month approaches, remember stroke survivors, caregivers, friends and loved ones. Prayer for them. Many are struggling with recovery - stroke is the major cause of permanent disability in the United States.

Even still, hope is not lost. Paul gave these powerful words to the Corinthians - accept Christ, and you are a new creation. Be with Christ, and what matters the most - not the fading exterior that everyone bears - the old has gone, and new has come.

And beyond, despite earthly suffering that every human being experiences, Paul reminds us of the promise before us. Be in Christ, and your spirit is renewed. Be in Christ, and you will find the ultimate hope, with renewal. All of us in Christ will be new creations. Our old forms - with all our imperfections - will be gone. The new will come again.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Prevention starts with awareness

May begins Stroke Awareness Month. A key part of awareness: Being aware of ways to prevent strokes, the leading cause of permanent disability in the United States.

Turn over a new leaf: Stroke prevention starts with healthy lifestyle
He points out that, according the American Stroke Association, up to 80 percent of all strokes are preventable. But that’s easier said than done, right? After all, it takes more than good intentions to make lasting changes.

"I think there is a big disconnect with stroke," he says. "It’s the third leading killer and the number one leading cause of long-term disability, yet it’s 80 percent preventable. The question is: where’s the disconnect? I have friends with good insurance who won’t see the doctor on a regular basis."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Long after a stroke, recovery can persist

Limb movement regained years after stroke
Researchers say the results provide the best evidence yet that stroke survivors can regain some lost movement long after their stroke. In the U.S., stroke survivors typically receive stroke rehabilitation therapy only during the first six months after a stroke because the conventional wisdom is that lost movement cannot be regained after that point.

"There are about 6.4 million stroke patients in the U.S. with chronic deficits. We've shown that with the right therapy, they can see improvements in movement, everyday function, and quality of life," says researcher Albert Lo, assistant professor of neurology at Brown University, in a news release. "One of the purposes of this study was to upend the conventional dogma that stroke victims can't recover physiological function."

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Team runs Boston Marathon for stroke awareness

Former NFL star is fighting a different battle now:

Former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who retired prior to the 2009 season, is running in the name of raising money for stroke awareness. Bruschi had a stroke shortly after he played in the Pro Bowl in 2005 but still returned to play for New England the following season.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Walking away stroke risk

Brisk walking reduces stroke risk
The findings are based on a study of the exercising habits of 39,315 female health professionals whose average age was 54. It found that:

* Women who walked at a pace of 3 miles per hour or faster had a 37% lower risk of suffering any type of stroke.
* Women who walked two or more hours a week had a 30% reduced risk of any type of stroke.

“Physical activity, including regular walking, is an important modifiable behavior for stroke prevention,” Jacob R. Sattelmair, MSc, of the Harvard School of Public Health, says in a news release. “Physical activity is essential to promoting cardiovascular health and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, and walking is one way of achieving physical activity.”
(Photo from CDC)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Playing and working - at the same time

Wii games speed stroke rehab
In a first-of-its-kind study, 11 stroke victims with weakness in their arms could reach out and grab objects more easily and more quickly after two weeks of playing the active video games.

In contrast, 11 stroke patients who played card or block games for two weeks showed no change in arm strength afterward, says Gustavo Saposnik, MD, director of the Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

"For the first time, we've shown that the virtual reality gaming system is safe, feasible, and potentially effective at improving motor function after stroke," he tells WebMD.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The struggle of speech problems

Many stroke survivors know the frustration. Can't remember the right word. Use the wrong word instead of the right one. Trying to say a word but it comes out as gibberish. The list goes on...

My most annoying issue was that from time to time, I would swap pronouns - he vs. she. It took several weeks of speech therapy. To this day - and I suspect not the only stroke survivor - every time I stumble over a word, I wonder: Was it the stroke, or just a simple error that anyone would have made?

One of those unanswerable questions.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's Web site can answer other questions, though, or at least help in the search to find answers. Its brief explanation of aphasia:
What communication problems occur after a stroke?

After a stroke, some people experience language deficits ( aphasia ) that significantly impair their ability to communicate. These deficits vary depending on the extent and location of the damage. ...

* Difficulty sequencing thoughts together to tell a story
* Switching topics without warning, or seeming to "go off on tangents" without informing the listener
* Difficulty taking turns in conversation
* Problems maintaining a topic of conversation
* Trouble using an appropriate tone of voice
* Difficulties interpreting the subtleties of conversation (e.g., sarcasm, humor)
* Problems "keeping up" with others in a fast-paced interaction
* Reacting inappropriately; seeming overemotional (overreacting), impulsive, or "flat" (without emotional affect)
* Having little to no self-awareness of inappropriate actions or responses

(Image from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Click on the image for other resources.)

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Another reason to clear the air

A British study found a connection between pollution and stroke death, as Reuters news service:

Of 3,320 men and women who lived in a specific south London region and had a first stroke between 1995 and 2005, Dr. Ravi Maheswaran, at the University of Sheffield, and colleagues found more deaths among those exposed to higher estimated traffic-related pollution over more than a decade.

Maheswaran's team used 2002 estimates of two common traffic pollutants -- nitrogen dioxide and small, inhalable particles called particulate matter -- linked to breathing difficulties and other health problems.

Their report, in the journal Stroke, shows risk of dying increased 28 percent when nitrogen dioxide levels rose by just 10 micrograms per 3 square meters of air. A likewise increase in particulate matter increased death risk by 52 percent, they report.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

'Let us fix our eyes on Jesus'

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Today, we mark the day that changed everything. Today, we mark the day that saved our very souls. Today, we mark the day that sealed the defeat of death.

For today, we mark the day when followers found an open tomb. An open door for humanity. But specifically, an open door for you.

Today, on this resurrection day, celebrate that open door. Take the door. Go with him. He will always be with you.

From Korea 2006

Friday, April 02, 2010

'Pierced for our transgressions'

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

From Korea 2006
Today, we call it Good Friday. It is a day to consider the day that Jesus suffered on a cross, died for our own transgressions.

Isaiah wrote it long before. It came to pass. The nails and spear pierced him. Crucifixion involves the increasingly crushing sensation for a person's lungs. He was punished, yet brought peace who follow him. He was terribly wounded - giving us access to God's ultimate healing touch.

It is a Good Friday.