Monday, August 30, 2010

Not the best singing ever, but good info...

The Stroke Center of High Point (N.C.) Regional Hospital put out this stroke awareness video - the Brain Attack Song:

If you can't catch the words on the video, it goes like this:

Brain Attack, You must think F.A.S.T.

Move move quick to make your life last.

Do you know the symptoms of a Stroke Brain Attack?

Do the F.A.S.T. check so you can quickly react.

F is for your face, one side is a little numb. You try to move your face, but the smile never comes.

A is when one arm starts to drift to the ground. You want to put it up but can't move it around.

S is for your speech when you can't say a word. When you get it out, it may sound a little slurred.

T is for the time because you have none to waste. Call 9-1-1. Quick, quick, make haste.

Amateurish characters, but can't argue with the message.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

'Your love, O LORD, supported me'

When I said, "My foot is slipping,"
your love, O LORD, supported me.

When anxiety was great within me,
your consolation brought joy to my soul.

The readings from Psalm are so often comforting and supportive. When we slip (both in spirit and physically), when we suffer, when we seem lost.

The words in Psalm are here for us. So for the next few postings, you'll see some favorite Psalm passages. Use them to remind you of God's presence and support. Share these words to those who need them.

God indeed loves you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Technology, aphasia and stroke survivors

Back in the spring and summer of 1998, I spent a lot of time rebuilding my speaking and writing abilities. One of the effects of my stroke, I learned, was something called aphasia, an impairment of language which occurs when someone suffers injury to the language areas of the brain.

Often, as in my case, this accompanies a stroke.

In addition to speech therapy, I spent quite a bit of time playing on a child's education toy called the GeoSafari, originally bought for our daughters to use. The toy helped me get my words/grammar back in order, or at least to an acceptable degree. We actually sold the GeoSafari at a yard sale not long ago and thought about those days as it left with an eager parent.

But from the United Kingdom comes the news that with fancier technology these days, we might harness video game technology to help stroke survivors improve communication skills:
Motion sensing technologies, such as the Nintendo Wii Remote, could be used in the rehabilitation of people with aphasia - a language impairment, commonly caused by a stroke, that affects around 250,000 people in the UK. ...

"Gesture tracking and recognition technologies are becoming a ubiquitous part of new computing and gaming environments, ranging from Apple's touch-screen iPad through the hand-held Nintendo Wii Remote to Microsoft's forthcoming Kinect for the Xbox 360, which will track users' movements without the need for a handheld controller," says Stephanie Wilson, Senior Lecturer in HCID at City University London. "Whilst popular in gaming, we will evaluate the suitability of such technologies in aphasia rehabilitation."
We've already seen articles about how the Wii Fit can help the physical consequences of a stroke. Now, perhaps similar technology can help conquer other issues. Aphasia was the most frustrating part of my recovery. Here's hoping that technology will ease some of that frustration.

(Image from the National Library of Medicine)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Talk to your doctor

The quick takeaway from this story: If you are diagnosed with this condition, get a reason for the specific treatment your doctor recommends. Each has its own set of risks, benefits. Have your doctor spell out each.

Stroke prevention treatment varies widely across U.S.
Carotid artery disease occurs when plaque fills up major arteries supplying blood to the brain, greatly raising stroke risk.

There are three common treatments for the condition: an artery-scraping surgery called endarterectomy; the placement of a stent to keep the artery open; or the use of cholesterol and antihypertensive medications to help lower stroke risk.

The new report finds that patients can expect to be offered different treatments depending on where in the United States they live - a sign that there's no consensus on the best way to treat the condition, according to Duke University researchers.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

'Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit'

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

A couple of thoughts on the idea of your body as a temple - in stroke prevention and for fellow stroke survivors.

Paul was specifically writing here about sexual immorality, but the concept of your body as a temple for God is something you can carry in every aspect. Here's a couple:

Stroke prevention - If your body is a temple, maintain it well. One recent posting about stroke prevention listed the top risk factors:
  • History of high blood pressure
  • Current smoking
  • Abdominal obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Lack of physical activity
  • Poor diet
  • More than 30 drinks per month or binge drinking
  • Ratio of blood fats known as apolipoprotein B (apo B) to apolipoprotein AI (apo AI)
  • Heart disease
  • Psychosocial stress/depression
So many of these are at least partially in our control. Watch the numbers. Listen to your doctor. Be as active as you can be. Watch what you eat. You don't have to be unreasonable - just maintain that temple.

And for stroke survivors - My imperfect, flawed, damaged body is a temple. God loves me so much, despite my flaws, that he considers my body as a temple. Your body is a temple because of God's love for you.

Never forget that.

(Image from the Iowa Department of Public Health)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Important advice: Listen to your doctor

Many stroke patients stop taking meds, study shows:

In one report, researchers found that 25 percent of stroke patients stopped taking one or more of their stroke prevention medications within three months after their stroke.

"Providers should spend more time teaching stroke patients and caregivers when new risk factors are diagnosed and new medications are prescribed, such as blood pressure or cholesterol medications prior to discharge, while keeping the regimen as streamlined as possible," said lead researcher Dr. Cheryl D. Bushnell, an associate professor of neurology and associate director of the Women's Health Center of Excellence at Wake Forest University Health Sciences.
 While not in every instance, so many strokes can be prevented - often if the patients would follow a doctor's instructions. I'm as stubborn as the next patient, so it's taken me years to concede that 99 percent of the time, the doctor knows best.

Monday, August 09, 2010

'The door will be opened'

"So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.

"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

It seems, so often, that the gifts of life are passing us by. Think about material gifts - a bigger house, a new car, expensive clothes. We see people ask and ask and ask for these gifts. I've done it myself, in my unguarded moments.

The question is, what are we supposed to be asking for? What are we seeking? Why are we knocking? The Scripture above, the words of Christ Jesus, is about asking for his gift, seeking his gift, knocking on the door for his gift.

The gift of all gifts - a relationship with God, a discipleship with Christ. Comforting for those afflicted. Rest of those who are fatigued. The confident knowledge that with Christ, you are never alone.

All of this world's material gifts will turn to dust. The gift of all gifts, though, never ends.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Interesting study that warns survivors about falls

What prevents falls after strokes? Study: Not much | Reuters:

Up to three in four stroke survivors fall within six months of their stroke, and these falls can lead to serious injuries, including broken bones.

"Although research has shown that fall prevention programs including exercise are effective for older people, it was unclear whether these, or any other interventions, work for people with stroke," lead researcher Dr. Francis Batchelor of the University of Melbourne, in Australia, told Reuters Health by email.

So Batchelor and his colleagues carefully reviewed the relevant research to date and pooled together the results of 13 studies that enlisted a total of nearly 1,500 people.

The studies analyzed a wide range of interventions to prevent falls after strokes, from strength training to medications, report the researchers in the journal Stroke.

Clearly, there's a need to find a solution for these falls. A fall can lead to painful injuries and disability.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Drug isn't always used to battle a stroke

Another strong reason to make yourself aware of stroke signs and symptoms, plus what to do if it happens to yourself or someone you know. Even if you get to the right place in time, proper treatment is still not a guarantee, as this article illustrated.

Drug that could stop stroke isn't always used:
While a growing number of hospitals boast that they are equipped to use the clot-dissolving drug, they don't always do so, a Journal Sentinel investigation found. And the organization that certifies those hospitals as stroke centers doesn't require that they actually offer the drug to eligible patients.

The clot-dissolving agent, known as tissue plasminogen activator, or t-PA, is the only approved drug for treating a stroke by stopping it and significantly reducing the risk of disability.

Yet the number of patients who get t-PA has remained dismally low, about 5% of all stroke patients, ever since the drug was approved 14 years ago. Much of that is because patients fail to recognize their symptoms and get to the hospital within the 4 ½ -hour window during which the drug can be administered.

It is not all the fault of patients.

This is a great and informative article about stroke centers and stroke treatment, or, too often, the lack thereof.

Is every stroke patient a candidate for this drug?. No. That's why we want training of health professionals so they'll do the best job they can do. It's also illustrates the importance of the need for advocates for patients. Often, the patient can't speak clearly or isn't completely lucid after a stroke. That's why it's so important for someone to be able to speak on the patient's behalf.

Take this story as a valuable lesson on those two points.