Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Acupuncture doesn't seem to help

I've always been a little skeptical of acupuncture - even though for all I know, it might work for some people in some circumstances.

However, for those recovering from a stroke, according to Reuters Health, acupuncture might not be helpful:

"Our meta-analysis of data from rigorous randomized sham-controlled trials did not show a positive effect of acupuncture as a treatment for functional recovery after stroke," Dr. Jae Cheol Kong of Wonkwang University in Iksan, South Korea, and colleagues conclude in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ).

Some recent studies have found no benefit for acupuncture when it is compared to sham acupuncture, a placebo version of the traditional Chinese medicine technique that can involve needling non-acupuncture points, penetrating the skin shallowly, or not penetrating the skin at all.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Good resource to follow

From the U.S. National Library of Medicine, part of the National Institutes of Health, a service called MedlinePlus offers a great stream of good, updated information about strokes.

Follow this link to get to this resource.

It includes basic information on signs and symptoms, prevention and recovery. You can read about related clinical trials, research and much more.

Through this page, you can also sign up to receive updates via e-mail. Good content, good information for better stroke awareness.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

'I will give you rest'

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Burdens. Stress.

Welcome to the human condition. If you or someone you know has struggled with stroke recovery, you know the stress. And the burden of frustration. The weariness and worries.

Lift up your burden to Christ. Rest in Christ, with Christ, secured by Christ.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Time is key - even in small towns

My stroke did not happen in a big city or at a huge hospital. But God still arranged my care by medical professionals who knew what to do.

An interesting article about a “telestroke” technical tool at smaller hospitals:

Not all hospitals have the most up-to-date technology for evaluating people who may be having a stroke. But emergency rooms with access to a rapid-response stroke center via a consultation system known as “telestroke” can minimize brain damage caused by stroke, according to Stroke: Preventing and Treating “Brain Attack,” a new report from Harvard Medical School.

When stroke symptoms occur, quick action is vital. Getting to a hospital emergency room, preferably one that specializes in treating stroke, is crucial. To prevent brain cell death, treatment is most effective if it starts within an hour of the start of the stroke. One of the main clot-dissolving drugs, tPA, must be given within a few hours after symptoms appear.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Stroke-migraine link suspected

Everyone should know the stroke signs and symptoms. And now, one more reason: There is growing suspicion - no proof yet - that certain migraines might be stroke-related.

Migraines with aura may raise stroke risk

The two new studies, both published in BMJ, add to the evidence of a suspected migraine-disease link. But both research teams say the findings should not alarm those who suffer migraine with aura because the risk is still low.

''We don't want to scare people at all," researcher Tobias Kurth, M.D., Sc.D., director of research at INSERM at the Hospital del la Pitie Salpetriere in Paris, tells WebMD. The vast majority of migraine sufferers, he says, will not get a stroke because of their migraines.
(Image from the National Library of Medicine)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

'Act Fast' aims to save New Zealand stroke victims

Much of New Zealand is beautiful with friendly, smart people.

So it's good to know that country uses a campaign to increase stroke awareness, a topic that is near and dear to me. And the theme of "Act Fast" is key. Time = brain, as this blog has stated before. Know stroke signs and get help quickly. It could save a life or prevent permanent disability.

The article - from the Otago Daily Times - gives the sobering facts, too, about the how "young" stroke patients can be:

A quarter of New Zealanders who experience a stroke each year are aged under 65, the Stroke Foundation says, before Stroke Awareness Week begins on Monday.

The non-profit organisation is promoting the message "Act Fast" to help everyone spot the symptoms of the third-largest killer in the country and how acting fast can save lives.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

New blood-thinners - potentially in the works

If you know someone who went through a stroke or heart-related ailment, you might know someone who takes the drug warfarin, also knows as Coumadin. Another wide use of the same chemical, and I kid you not: rat poison.

This isn't designed to scare people off taking warfarin. I was on it for years and while it's exceedingly difficult to prove a negative, it very well could have prevented multiple strokes or mini-strokes. If your doctor prescribes this medication, follow the instructions to the letter.

That being said, the medication requires frequent blood draws and can result in excessive bleeding. It plays badly with several other medications and even some foods. So medical experts have been working on replacements for years.

Now, some good - although muddled - news. Analysis: No clear winner in 3-horse anticoagulant race:

Industry analysts estimate the warfarin-replacement market at more than $10 billion a year and possibly up to $20 billion.

Medical experts have cheered the arrival of a new generation of anti-clotting drugs, since it is hard to maintain the right balance of warfarin in patients and the drug also interacts badly with certain foods and other medicines.

"Patients and physicians have been begging for a warfarin replacement," according to Ralph Brindis, president of the American College of Cardiology.
 (Image from the National Institutes of Health; not a real photo of warfarin, by the way)

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

'He turned his ear to me'

I love the LORD, for he heard my voice;
he heard my cry for mercy.

Because he turned his ear to me,
I will call on him as long as I live.

People who read this blog have heard references to my own experience with aphasia, an impairment of language which occurs when someone suffers injury to the language areas of the brain.

This language from Psalm triggers thoughts about those days. When no one else could understand me, God could. He turned his ear to me. When I struggled with words, God turned his ear to me. When I said one word but meant another, God turned his ear to me. He understood every word. Every phrase. Every thought.

If you or a loved one is struggle with aphasia, God is listening - with perfect understanding.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

'I will not be shaken'

I have set the LORD always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.

Lord knows - and by that, I really mean that the Lord knows - people run into situations where they can be shaken.

One of our challenges is to keep in mind that the Lord is always before you. When events come around to shake your world, grasp God and don't let go.