Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Aphasia frustration - maybe spread-out therapy could help with recovery

It took a long time for my language skills to come back adequately - at least, under my definition of "adequately." One thing that persists over the last 17 years, though, is that when I am tired or stressed, speaking becomes harder.

So, this study makes a certain amount of sense to me - work too hard, you'll tire out. And initially, my stroke left me easily tired. This study looked at the time involved in speech therapy and recovering speech skills and found that aphasia recovery better when therapy is spread out:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Training stroke patients for the just-in-case scenario

Photo from Thomas Hawk via Flickr
Learning is generally a good thing.

Ever been hospitalized? If so, it's likely you went through a discharge process, received some instructions and signed some papers. In my experience, most instructions are semi-helpful at best. Now, here's an idea that might be an upgrade for in-hospital instructions - educating stroke survivors helps them spot another stroke faster:
Stroke survivors who receive extensive stroke education are much more likely to recognize symptoms of another stroke and seek immediate treatment, a new study shows. ...

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Legislation about stroke centers can make a real difference

Where do you live? Where's the closest stroke center?

We've all seen lots of evidence that where you live has a lot to do with your health. Local diet. Cultural expectations about exercise. Access to healthy food choices. Access to places where you can safely take a walk.

And access to stroke centers, according to recent research showing how state stroke center laws have a real impact:
States with some of the highest percentage of acute care hospitals with designated stroke centers were Delaware (100%), Massachusetts (97%), New Jersey (96%), and Rhode Island (90%).

Thursday, June 18, 2015

'Now faith is the assurance of ... "

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
What is faith to you?

The writer of the New Testament book Hebrews - and we don't know with certainty who wrote it - knew his or her own answer.

So what do you hope for? Ultimately. In the short term, I hope to keep up this blog, to spend time with my family, to keep connected to my church, to ... . You get the idea.

But what do I really hope for? How about this: I hope to retain my conviction of things not seen. Faith gives the assurance that one day, those convictions will be seen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

'Keeps body and soul together'

Watch this: God’s eye is on those who respect him, the ones who are looking for his love. He’s ready to come to their rescue in bad times; in lean times he keeps body and soul together.
Ever seen bad times? If not, just wait - everyone sees them sooner or later.

In the bad times of my life, God was my lifeboat. He gave me health professionals, other experts, friends, colleagues, fellow believers - the list can go on and on. With these resources, he kept my body and soul together time and time again.

Notice that the Psalm writer didn't say you won't face bad times; just that God is with you even during those times.

Another compelling part of the verses from The Message, kind of a combo commentary and Bible reference,  talks about people who are looking for God's love. We're hard-wired, it seems, in our search for love.

Know that God's love is always there for you, coming to your rescue, keeping body and soul together.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Too soon for certainty, but a potential way to recover stroke patients' limbs

Photo from BelĂ©n Rubio Ballester
Appears to be good news, with a large grain of salt.

I've seen several references how the use of virtual reality technology could help stroke patients recover the use of a limb. The idea is to have the limb represented on a computer screen, performing better than it performs in real life, which then makes the limb's functions improved in real life.

The grain of salt: It's from a study of just 20 people. Worth more research, but still a "maybe" at this stage.

You can read more through this link to a story about virtual reality and stroke patients:
In the study of 20 stroke patients, researchers sometimes enhanced the virtual representation of the patient's affected limb, making it seem faster and more accurate, but without the patient's knowledge.
After the episodes in which the limbs were made to seem more effective, the patients then went on to use them more, according to lead researcher Belen Rubio.
"Surprisingly, only 10 minutes of enhancement was enough to induce significant changes in the amount of spontaneous use of the affected limb," said Mrs Rubio from the Laboratory of Synthetic, Perceptive, Emotive and Cognitive Systems at Pompeu Fabra University in Spain.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Stroke risk rises for those with untreated apnea

Photo from flickr by Tony Webster
I don't have a real frame of reference about apnea. But I know a lot of people who face this sleeping disorder.

Now, another reason to investigate and, if necessary, treat this problem. In a study involving millions of people, it seems that untreated sleep apnea boosts risk of heart disease, stroke:
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may increase the risks of death, heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease, as well as hasten kidney function decline, according to a study of more than 3 million U.S. veterans.
Compared with OSA-negative patients, untreated OSA was associated with an 86% higher mortality risk ... , and treated OSA was associated with a 35% higher mortality risk ... , wrote Miklos Z. Molnar, MD, PhD, of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis, and colleagues, in the journal Thorax.
What sleep apnea? Follow this link to find out more about its causes and symptoms. And if this might - just might - explain why you often feel tired and sleepy, there's now one more reason to seek treatment.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

What's the next phase of stroke treatment?

Designed by Freepik
I was fortunate enough to be in the right place, right time in 1998 - just two years after approval of clot-buster tissue plasminogen activator, also known as tPA or alteplase.

However, it's true that little has changed since then. Researchers have looked at different windows of time for the drug, which can quickly dissolve a clot to prevent further stroke damage, but new, safer and more effective drugs have not come to pass.

I have little right to complain about tPA, but I'm just one guy who benefited. It has its dangers, too. And while there are some good signs related to using devices to remove clots, much more research and work are needed to improve treatment and stroke outcomes.

You can read a recent article summarizing the need for the next phase in stroke treatment:

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

From biblical times to modern hospitals, timing can make all the difference

From Flickr by Sean MacEntee

Starting out in left field here. One of my favorite books in the Bible is Acts. Why? Because a lot of important events are happening quickly, and timing is critical. The order of events is part of a grand plan there.

I like timing things in life, too. I'm not as good as God with timing, but when my sequence of actions works, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction.

So, I'm interested in this recent story about how workflow processes can be a success, showing how clot busters can be delivered in an hour, even with an MRI:
Two centers -- one academic, one community -- that use MRI as part of an NIH study dropped their median DTN [Jeff's note: DTN stands for door-to-needle, or the time between the patient enters the hospital to the time of stroke treatment] time from 93 to 55 minutes after focusing their workflow processes, Amie Hsia, MD, of MedStar Washington Hospital Stroke Center, and colleagues reported online in Neurology.