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Recovery after a stroke

Recovery after a stroke

Recovery after a stroke is a slow process that is difficult to understand and, above all, requires great effort. Strokes consist of the interruption of blood flow in some part of the brain, either due to hemorrhage or arterial obstruction, and their severity derives from there.

This causes the brain cells in the affected area to die, since they do not receive oxygen or nutrients. Therefore, depending on the region of the stroke, there will be the consequences to be rehabilitated, which may be in speech, mobility or mood.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a medical emergency in which an injury occurs to an area of ​​the brain to which blood supply does not reach. In 85% of cases, the cause lies in an obstruction of the arteries that carry oxygenated blood to the neurons. This obstruction may be in the neck (in the carotid arteries) or in the brain itself.

Another cause is hemorrhages that prevent blood from reaching all areas, as it leaks and is lost in the brain support tissue. In either situation, the neurons only survive for a few minutes without oxygen and then die.

The brain is the most complex organ in the body. It is responsible for coordinating all the functions we perform, such as movements, language and memory. The connections between neurons are unique and different in each person; Hence each one has a way of thinking and a certain personality.

The problem is that, when there is a stroke and cells in a specific part of this organ die, one or several different functions can be affected. It is a situation that produces both physical and psychosocial damage to the person.

According to studies, in the United States alone, more than 700,000 people suffer a stroke each year. Of all of them, a third die. However, the other two-thirds survive and need to begin the recovery process to rehabilitate themselves.

Neurons are the cells of the nervous system that are affected by strokes.

Why does recovery happen after a stroke?

Stroke is one of the most important causes of disability today. Recovery after a stroke aims to improve the quality of life of the affected person and help them become as independent as possible.

However, this process does not reverse brain damage. These injuries are permanent. In fact, today it is not known exactly what happens at the neuronal level to be able to explain why rehabilitation actually works.

However, there are a series of hypotheses on the subject:

Firstly, it is believed that when an area has been damaged, recovery after a stroke leads to other areas of the brain taking over the functions it performed. This is due to neuronal plasticity, a property by which the connections between cells in the nervous system can change to adapt.

Another reason could be that the cells in that area, instead of dying due to lack of blood, are simply damaged, becoming susceptible to repair. This would explain why, when blood flow is restored, functions remain intact and have not been forgotten.

How is rehabilitation carried out?

Recovery after a stroke usually begins as soon as the person is stabilized. That is, most of the time it starts between 24 to 48 after the episode. This is done because it has been proven that speed improves the prognosis.

While it is true that this process often begins in the hospital, it is not the only place where it can take place. Rehabilitation can be done in specialized centers, in outpatient clinics and even in the patient's own home.

For this type of recovery, a multidisciplinary team is needed. Both kinesiologists, nurses, therapists and doctors are essential to achieve complete rehabilitation. However, it always depends on which area has been affected.

Psychologists and speech therapists, like many other professionals, also play an important role. We must not forget that a stroke not only has physiological consequences, but also affects the entire existence and quality of life.

Stroke Recovery Strategies

Recovery after a stroke can include different strategies, depending on what functions you seek to rehabilitate. For example, when mobility has been affected, training and exercises are usually carried out to help improve motor skills, with a lot of participation from physiotherapists.

Speech is another of the abilities that most tends to be damaged. Therapy to improve communication disorders is one of the most used in this process. In the same way, a psychological evaluation of the patient is always carried out, since words are fundamental for any human being. The fact of not being able to communicate as one would like has psychological consequences as well.

The truth is that recovery after suffering a stroke can last years. It is something that must be done with patience and realism, being aware that the search is an improvement, but that there may be functions that will never be restored.

It is the duty of the treating team to set objectives that are achievable. Likewise, the patient's social support network, family and friends, have the task of accompanying them without generating false expectations. Rehabilitation techniques have improved a lot in recent decades, but we are still facing consequences that are difficult to eradicate.


"Because prevention is better than cure"

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