Sunday, November 10, 2019

COMMUNICATION AND COGNITIVE CHANGES


www.strokecamp.org



http://www.unitedstrokealliance.org/



*****************************************************************

Stroke Support Group Finder Link
*****************************************************************
The following is from the fall Stroke Connection Magazine
http://strokeconnection.strokeassociation.org

COMMON COMMUNICATION AND COGNITIVE CHANGES AFTER STROKE

The brain controls your ability to use language. Speaking, listening and understanding are complex processes. Each involves different parts of the brain. The location of the stroke injury controls the type of communication problem.

Aphasia 


Aphasia is a common communication problem after a stroke. There are three types: expressive, receptive and global. 

• People with expressive (non-fluent) aphasia know what they want to say but have trouble saying it. They can’t find the right words or have trouble “getting the words out.” Or, they may use the wrong words or leave out words without knowing it. 

• People with receptive (fluent) aphasia have trouble understanding words other people speak. They may not understand the order of the words or the relationship between the words. 

• People with global aphasia may be unable to speak, name objects, repeat phrases or follow commands. They also have a hard time understanding what others are saying.

Dysarthria 

Dysarthria affects control of the muscles in the face, tongue and mouth. People with dysarthria may know exactly what they want to say. But they may speak slowly. Their speech may sound slurred, muffled, hoarse or nasal.

Apraxia 

Apraxia of speech affects the ability to speak. People with apraxia have trouble connecting speech messages from their brain to their mouth. Apraxia of speech may affect more than the power to speak. It often affects reading and writing as well.

Aphasia, dysarthria and apraxia do not cause a loss of intellect. Even though it’s difficult for a survivor to speak, it’s not because of a lack of intelligence.
---------

MEMORY AND COGNITIVE CHALLENGES 

Different parts of the brain control specific types of thinking. Depending on where stroke happens in the brain, problems with certain types of thought may occur. Stroke survivors can have trouble with memory. Planning, organizing ideas or making decisions can also be hard after stroke.

How stroke affects memory 

Many stroke survivors face memory challenges. But not all memory problems are the same. A stroke survivor may: 

Remember for only a short span of time. For instance, they might remember only two or three steps in a set of instructions. Or, the person might forget whether they have taken their medications or eaten a meal. 

Have trouble absorbing new information. The survivor may need to have things repeated over and over. 

Have problems transferring learning from one setting to another. For example, in the hospital the survivor might be able to safely transfer from a wheelchair to a bed alone. But at home, the change in setting may make the person unable to do the same task. 

Mix up the details of an event. A stroke survivor might confuse when things happened or who was there. For example, he or she might think a family member visited in the morning instead of the evening before.---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
At United Stroke Alliance we urge you to Be-Faster!
If you have detected the following stroke symptoms, don't wait.  

BE-FASTER!

Don't wait, be Be-Faster to save someone's life. Awareness is critical! What if you could help save your life or someone else’s by knowing the signs of stroke? Once a stroke begins to present itself, BE-FASTER and dial 911 immediately - the more time that is wasted, the more functioning you could lose as a result – up to 1,900,000 brain cells a minute or worse - death. Act FAST when stroke strikes. Be aware of the signs of a stroke and how to act:

BALANCE
Sudden loss of balance

EYES
Sudden blurry or loss of vision

FACE
Sudden numbness, one side drooping - can you smile?

ARMS
Sudden weakness in arms - can you raise both?

SPEECH
Slurred or mumbling speech

TIME
CALL 911 NOW
EMERGENCY
ROOM

Get to the ER by ambulance they know what to do FASTER!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Stroke's Common Physical Changes


www.strokecamp.org



http://www.unitedstrokealliance.org/



*****************************************************************

Stroke Support Group Finder Link
*****************************************************************
The following is from the fall Stroke Connection Magazine
http://strokeconnection.strokeassociation.org

COMMON PHYSICAL CHANGES AFTER A STROKE

Physical changes that follow a stroke are the result of injury to the brain and may include one or more effects.

Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body

If the stroke occurs on the brain’s right side, the left side of the body and face will be affected. It’s the opposite for a stroke that occurs on the left side of the brain.

Fatigue

After a stroke, it’s common to feel tired at some point. This is known as fatigue. Fatigue often starts to lessen a few months after the stroke. But for some people, tiredness may continue for years. If you’re experiencing poststroke fatigue, talk to your health care team about ways to reduce it.

Spasticity

When you try to move a limb, the muscles contract (shorten or flex). This creates stiffness and tightness, which is referred to as “spasticity.” Spasticity also causes the tendons and soft tissue around the muscle to become tight or stiff. This makes stretching the muscle much more difficult. If not treated, the muscle can freeze into an abnormal and often painful position. If you have spasticity, talk to your doctor about the best treatments for you. Physical therapy and medications can help.

Seizures

Seizures are brain malfunctions that alter a person’s awareness. A seizure may last only a few seconds or minutes. It may trigger involuntary body movements, strange sensations or blackouts. Studies vary greatly about how often seizures happen after stroke. Seizures are painless. But they can be upsetting and disorienting. Often, seizures can be treated with medications. If you think you may have had a seizure, let your health care team know.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
At United Stroke Alliance we urge you to Be-Faster!
If you have detected the following stroke symptoms, don't wait.  

BE-FASTER!

Don't wait, be Be-Faster to save someone's life. Awareness is critical! What if you could help save your life or someone else’s by knowing the signs of stroke? Once a stroke begins to present itself, BE-FASTER and dial 911 immediately - the more time that is wasted, the more functioning you could lose as a result – up to 1,900,000 brain cells a minute or worse - death. Act FAST when stroke strikes. Be aware of the signs of a stroke and how to act:

BALANCE
Sudden loss of balance

EYES
Sudden blurry or loss of vision

FACE
Sudden numbness, one side drooping - can you smile?

ARMS
Sudden weakness in arms - can you raise both?

SPEECH
Slurred or mumbling speech


TIME
CALL 911 NOW
EMERGENCY
ROOM

Get to the ER by ambulance they know what to do FASTER!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Is it ischemic or hemorrhagic


www.strokecamp.org



http://www.unitedstrokealliance.org/



*****************************************************************

Stroke Support Group Finder Link
*****************************************************************
The following is from the fall Stroke Connection Magazine
http://strokeconnection.strokeassociation.org

Early treatment of ischemic stroke 

Ischemic stroke happens when a blood clot blocks a vessel supplying blood to the brain. It’s the most common type, accounting for 87% of all strokes. The treatment goal is to dissolve or remove the clot. To dissolve a clot, a medicine called alteplase (tPA) is given through an IV (intravenous line). It works by dissolving the clot so blood can flow again. Alteplase can save lives and reduce the long-term effects of stroke. It needs to be given within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms (up to 4.5 hours for some eligible patients). To remove a clot involves a procedure called mechanical thrombectomy. Doctors use a wire-cage device called a stent retriever to remove a large blood clot. They thread a catheter through an artery in the groin up to the blocked artery in the brain. The stent opens and grabs the clot, allowing doctors to remove the stent with the trapped clot. Special suction tubes may also be used to remove the clot. This procedure must be done within up to six to 24 hours of stroke symptom onset and after the patient has received alteplase, if eligible. Patients must meet certain criteria to be eligible for this procedure.

 Early treatment of hemorrhagic stroke 

Hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel bursts (ruptures) and bleeds within or around the brain. Blood vessels can become weak due to a ballooning of part of the vessel (aneurysm). Other times there may be a tangle of blood vessels within the brain that didn’t form normally, making them weak (arteriovenous malformation or AVM). When high blood pressure isn’t controlled, it puts strain on weakened blood vessels that can lead to the ruptures that cause stroke. The treatment goal is to stop the bleeding. For some patients, a small tube (catheter) with a camera is threaded through a major artery in an arm or leg and guided to the area of the bleed in the brain. The camera gives the surgeon a detailed view of the area to help fix the problem. Once the catheter is guided to the source of the bleeding, it leaves a mechanism, such as a coil, to prevent further rupture. This type of procedure is less invasive than standard surgical treatment. Sometimes surgery is required to secure a blood vessel at the base of the aneurysm.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
At United Stroke Alliance we urge you to Be-Faster!
If you have detected the following stroke symptoms, don't wait.  


BE-FASTER!

Don't wait, be Be-Faster to save someone's life. Awareness is critical! What if you could help save your life or someone else’s by knowing the signs of stroke? Once a stroke begins to present itself, BE-FASTER and dial 911 immediately - the more time that is wasted, the more functioning you could lose as a result – up to 1,900,000 brain cells a minute or worse - death. Act FAST when stroke strikes. Be aware of the signs of a stroke and how to act:

BALANCE
Sudden loss of balance

EYES
Sudden blurry or loss of vision

FACE
Sudden numbness, one side drooping - can you smile?

ARMS
Sudden weakness in arms - can you raise both?

SPEECH
Slurred or mumbling speech

TIME
CALL 911 NOW
EMERGENCY
ROOM

Get to the ER by ambulance they know what to do FASTER!

Monday, October 21, 2019

EMOTIONAL AND PERSONALITY CHANGES

 
www.strokecamp.org



http://www.unitedstrokealliance.org/


United Stroke Alliance in partnership with Medtronic launched a new resource for Stroke Support Groups called The Booster Box. Included in the box is everything a leader needs to conduct a support group meeting for up to 24 attendees.

To receive your free Booster Box please call our office at 
309-688-5450 or email info@strokecamp.org to request yours. 

Subscriptions will be available for purchase and information will be inside your free box.  

Show Me The Booster Box
*****************************************************************
*****************************************************************  

COMMON EMOTIONAL AND PERSONALITY CHANGES AFTER STROKE

strokeassociation.org/strokeconnection  

After a stroke, people often experience emotional and behavioral changes. This is because the brain controls our behavior and emotions. A stroke may make a person forgetful, careless, annoyed or confused. Stroke survivors may also feel anxiety, anger or depression. Their behavior depends on which part of the brain is affected and how extensive the injury is.

Depression 

Depression is common after stroke, affecting about one-third to two-thirds of all survivors. The symptoms can be mild or severe, often starting in the early stages of stroke recovery. Stroke survivors should be assessed for depression and treated when it occurs. It’s important to identify and treat post-stroke depression (PSD) as soon as possible. Untreated, it can lead to being in the hospital longer and can limit a survivor’s functional recovery.

The symptoms of PSD may vary and change over time, but patients and families should watch for: 

• Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood 
• Depressed mood; loss of interest/pleasure 
• Sleeping problems 
• Decreased motivation 
• Responding with little or no emotion 
• Feelings of hopelessness • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness (feeling like a burden) 
• Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down” 
• Difficulty focusing, remembering, making decisions 
• Appetite changes 
• Thoughts of death or suicide 

When five or more of the above symptoms last for two or more weeks, a survivor may be having PSD.

Anxiety 

Changes related to stroke can lead to worry and anxiety. Getting around may be harder. There may be financial strains. Other sources of anxiety after stroke may be fear of falling because of balance problems or being anxious about speaking because of aphasia. Counseling can be helpful for anxiety. Sometimes anxiety and depression are both in play. If you’re anxious, talk with your health care team about potential treatments. 

Pseudobulbar affect (PBA) 

When parts of the brain that control emotions are injured, PBA (also called emotional lability or reflex crying) occurs. Most often, people cry easily. Some may laugh uncontrollably or have sudden mood swings. These are physical effects of the stroke. Telling the person not to cry won’t help. Instead, ask them how they want to be treated during an episode. Many people prefer that it be treated as a reflex, such as hiccups, and that conversation continue. Lability often lessens over time. If PBA is a problem for you, ask your health care provider about available treatments.
***************************************************************** 

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Wisdom Better Than Knowledge


www.strokecamp.org



http://www.unitedstrokealliance.org/


United Stroke Alliance in partnership with Medtronic launched a new resource for Stroke Support Groups called The Booster Box. Included in the box is everything a leader needs to conduct a support group meeting for up to 24 attendees.

To receive your free Booster Box please call our office at 
309-688-5450 or email info@strokecamp.org to request yours. 

Subscriptions will be available for purchase and information will be inside your free box.  

Show Me The Booster Box
*****************************************************************
*****************************************************************
This week's blog is submitted by Phil Bell, retired pastor, University Baptist Church. He is a stroke survivor, and occasionally writes an article for the local newspaper. He permits us to post them, also.
*****************************************************************
Street & Steeple August 9, 2019
 
“Wisdom Better Than Knowledge
By Phil Bell, retired pastor, University Baptist Church

__________________________________
August is the month when our schools will be opening including Macomb Public, St. Paul’s, and WIU! Students will be returning, either by choice or by force. Their quest for knowledge will once again resume after a summer of fun and / or work! That doesn’t mean knowledge wasn’t gained in the summer, but then it was more accidental than purposeful as in a classroom! 


The problem with knowledge, is that once possessed, it doesn’t mean it will be wisely put to use! My homespun definition of wisdom is “the proper application of knowledge.” One internet dictionary defines it as “the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment,” and “the quality of being wise.” 

For me, the best example of the difference between knowledge and wisdom is one I heard made by Dr. David Jeremiah, being “Knowledge is knowing tomatoes are a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put them in a fruit salad!” That, for me, describes them perfectly! I’m not depreciating the value of knowledge, quite the contrary. I am saying it’s not enough alone! Alexander Pope recognized the danger in it in his poem, “An Essay on Criticism,” writing, “A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep or taste not the Pierian spring; there shallow draughts intoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.” Put in modern lingo it probably would be, “Go big or go home!” 

I agree with him. If one is going to acquire knowledge, don’t cut it short. Get all you can! I’d go further, “Knowledge without wisdom is like having a really great looking car without gasoline, it may impress people, but won’t get you too far! 

Having only one functioning hand and arm, occupational therapy was very important for me. There, I learned how to put on and take off a shirt by myself. I might have stumbled on to learning how to do it on my own, who knows, but that’s what occupational therapy is for, to cut down on the stumbling! Yes, I have the knowledge to do it, and do, but when my wife says, “let me help you with that,” I have the wisdom not to say, “That’s alright, I can do it myself!” 

The Bible has a great deal to say about wisdom. First, let’s begin with King David. He links wisdom with being righteous and justice. We read in Psalm 37:30, “the mouth of the righteous utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks justice. I think it’s no coincidence wisdom is shown by speaking. Too often one shows his or her ignorance by something he or she says, which reminds me of a modern proverb, “Better to remain silent and have people wonder if you’re a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt!” 

Staying in the Psalms, David describes wisdom as coming from God. In Psalm 51: 6 is found, “Behold, you desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part /you make me know wisdom.” Still in Psalms 90:12 we read, “So teach us to number our days so we may present to You a heart of wisdom.” Clearly the psalmist is saying a wise person knows life is not eternal here on earth and lives accordingly! 

The New Testament also speaks of wisdom. In 1 Corinthians 1:20 we read, “Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since Paul is saying there is a difference between the world’s wisdom and the wisdom of God. In the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.” 

Paul is saying there is a difference between the wisdom of God and the wisdom of the world! By his wisdom we are saved, but by only earthly wisdom we cannot even know God! My point is not to depreciate knowledge, but rather to say it should not be where our education ends. True wisdom acknowledges God and trumps mere knowledge! 

For example, our knowledge changes over time. Once, in history, everyone knew for sure that the earth was flat. Some time later it was common knowledge that the sun revolved around the earth! I wonder what things we know for sure, today, will be foolishness a hundred years from now! Who knows, maybe by then, Pluto will be a planet again! 

Wisdom is not relying on the knowledge and wisdom the world gives us if they disagree with God’s Word. Remember, though we need both, wisdom is better than knowledge!

Phil Bell, retired pastor, University Baptist Church

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

What is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF)?

*****************************************************************
* I've been a bit late on posts lately because of                                        *
* circumstances. I will try to get back on                                                   *
* schedule by posting a new article every                                                 *
*  Sunday night after 10pm.                                                                        * 
*****************************************************************

http://www.unitedstrokealliance.org/
www.strokecamp.org



United Stroke Alliance in partnership with Medtronic is launching a new resource for Stroke Support Groups called The Booster Box. Included in the box is everything a leader needs to conduct a support group meeting for up to 24 attendees.

To receive your free Booster Box please call our office at 
309-688-5450 or email info@strokecamp.org to request yours. 

Subscriptions will be available for purchase and information will be inside your free box.  

Show Me The Booster Box
*****************************************************************
*****************************************************************
September was Atrial Fibrillation Month. I posted this a year ago and I think it is worth posting again. This article is originally from the American Heart Association. I believe this is appropriate for a stroke blog since AF can lead to a stroke. 

I've been a bit late on posts lately because of circumstances. I will try to get back on schedule by posting a new article every Sunday night after 10pm. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
What is Atrial Fibrillation (AFib or AF)?

Atrial fibrillation (also called AFib or AF) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. At least 2.7 million Americans are living with AFib.

Here’s how patients have described their experience:
“My heart flip-flops, skips beats, and feels like it’s banging against my chest wall, especially if I’m carrying stuff up my stairs or bending down.”

“I was nauseated, light-headed, and weak. I had a really fast heartbeat and felt like I was gasping for air.”
“I had no symptoms at all. I discovered my AF at a regular check-up. I’m glad we found it early.”

What happens during AFib?


Normally, your heart contracts and relaxes to a regular beat. In atrial fibrillation, the upper chambers of the heart (the atria) beat irregularly (quiver) instead of beating effectively to move blood into the ventriclesIf a clot breaks off, enters the bloodstream and lodges in an artery leading to the brain, a stroke results. About 15–20 percent of people who have strokes have this heart arrhythmia. This clot risk is why patients with this condition are put on blood thinners.

Even though untreated atrial fibrillation doubles the risk of heart-related deaths and is associated with a 5-fold increased risk for stroke, many patients are unaware that AFib is a serious condition.




According to the 2009 “Out of Sync” survey:
Only 33% of AF patients think atrial fibrillation is a serious condition
Less than half of AF patients believe they have an increased risk for stroke or heart-related hospitalizations or death.

AFib Treatment Saves Lives & Lowers Risks

If you or someone you love has atrial fibrillation, learn more about what AFib is, why treatment can save lives, and what you can do to reach your goals, lower your risks and live a healthy life.

If you think you may have atrial fibrillation, here are your most important steps:


    1. Know the symptoms
    2. Get the right treatment
    3. Reduce risks for stroke and heart failure

    We’re here to help you live your healthiest life!
    *************************************************************************************

    Monday, September 16, 2019

    A Memorable Beginning


    www.strokecamp.org



    http://www.unitedstrokealliance.org/


    United Stroke Alliance in partnership with Medtronic launched a new resource for Stroke Support Groups called The Booster Box. Included in the box is everything a leader needs to conduct a support group meeting for up to 24 attendees.

    To receive your free Booster Box please call our office at 
    309-688-5450 or email info@strokecamp.org to request yours. 

    Subscriptions will be available for purchase and information will be inside your free box.  

    Show Me The Booster Box
    *****************************************************************
    *****************************************************************  
    The following post is from a recent Stroke Connection article.
    Stroke.org

    *****************************************************************  

    A Memorable Beginning




    Survivor Deborah Nealon hikes Paintbrush Divide in the Grand Teton range.
    Survivor Deborah Nealon hikes Paintbrush Divide in the Grand Teton range.
    This slice of my life has been offered for public consumption before; only now I serve it as an appetizer, not the main course.
    At 5:30, my morning began as normal. It was the start of Memorial Day weekend 2005. It was as normal as any other morning except I noticed my right hand was not helping my left to shampoo my hair. It felt weak and tingly. As I dressed, my right hand did not participate again. Although my hand appeared fine, it was acting as if it were an inflated latex glove, exaggerated and numb.





    A couple of hours later, I sat in a diner wanting breakfast when another unusual event occurred. A waitress approached the table to take my order, and I could not express that I wanted bacon alongside my scrambled eggs unless I used the word “with” because I was unable to say the word “and.” “Wow, I need breakfast,” I thought. I ate as a lefty because the fork anchored my right hand to the table. After eating, I thought I was ready to get on with the day, so I paid the tab, left the diner and headed for my car. But I only made it to the curb.
    I caught a glimpse of someone’s watch as I arrived at the emergency room. It was almost 1:00 p.m. My recollection of my transport to the hospital is a blur. When I was in the emergency room, I got progressively worse and started to lose more and more of my abilities. I became paralyzed on my right side. I was frightened, not knowing what to expect.
    Once the hospital paperwork was processed, the staff assessed me, disrobed me and prepared me for an MRI. I couldn’t even sign my name, and while I may not have been able to ambulate or speak well, I could hear just fine. The MRI machine was loud and frightening. When the noise stopped, a nurse took me back to my curtained cubicle on a gurney via a bright, busy hallway. I lay there acutely aware of every sound, waiting in a sub-comfortable temperature for the results.
    As time ticked by, I grew anxious and bored. Then I realized I was learning a lot about my surroundings without physical exploration. The gruff voice coming from behind the curtain on the right was that of a woman. The smell of cigarettes permeated that side of the room, and I pictured a 40-plus-year smoker as she requested some water. There was snoring behind the left-side curtain, so I thought that must be a man.
    Just as I began to relax, a physician yanked open my cubicle curtain to inform me that I had had a stroke. What? Did he see my D.O.B.? I was only 35 years old. My knowledge of stroke was very limited. I think the common perception is that stroke happens to elderly people — at least that was my perception and I’m even in health care.
    The doctor went on to explain what caused my stroke — hyperthyroidism caused by Graves’ disease. This condition made my heart beat fast and irregular which allowed a clot to form which blocked an artery restricting the oxygen to my brain. I have since learned about Graves’ disease and how to control it. Graves’ disease can go dormant. That’s where I am now — off medication and aware of the signs and symptoms of Graves’ disease. (See sidebar About Graves’ Disease.) I do blood work periodically just to make sure it’s in check.
    After I was admitted to the hospital, I would learn that it is not shocking for a person to have a stroke at 35. Even fetuses still in the womb have been known to have strokes. So, strokes occurring in young people are not unique. What is unique is the way a stroke affects each person. Some people barely notice that they’ve had a stroke, while others are devastated.
    The first night in the hospital, I felt alone after everyone went home. I remember being afraid to go to sleep because I wasn’t sure if I would wake up or what other deficits I would have when I woke up the next morning.





    My stroke made the right side of my body inept and rendered me verbally useless. Since I’m right-handed, my attempts at communication were exhausting and ended in failure. Any letters I tried to scribe with my left hand were not legible. The seal-like sounds that came from my mouth were indecipherable, too. Meanwhile, my brain was secretly hard at work reorganizing to restore my function.
    Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”
    Six days after my stroke, I was released from the hospital. I had recovered quickly and was able to walk, talk and write. I felt like a butterfly freshly emerged from a cocoon. With eternal gratitude, I immediately began to create a whole new life.
    Deborah in her home officeI was back at work in health care in less than two weeks, because when you have financial need, you can’t wait to go back to work. I had to be picked up and dropped off before being cleared to drive six weeks later. They said my recovery was most likely attributable to my age and being in good health.
    A year after my stroke, I taught my youngest daughter how to drive. I watched with pride as she became a college freshman. It was traumatic for her to witness my stroke, but that’s what gives you motivation to keep going. You want to give your children comfort and security and let them know they can depend on you.
    I took up running, which helped me with my gait. It was awkward at first, but I would go on to do three marathons. The first one was in 2009, four years after my stroke. I have also learned how to mountain bike and even had a brief opportunity to showcase my skills on a local television show about women taking up mountain biking. Surprisingly, I discovered I love mountaineering despite being afraid of heights before. In the past several years, I have climbed many mountains.
    I went on to complete a graduate degree in health administration. At the time of my stroke, my specialty was podiatry. Today, it is vascular. So now I’m closer to patients who have had strokes.
    So much has happened since my stroke more than a decade ago that has helped me put it into perspective. In the beginning when I would introduce myself, it was almost always, “Hi, I’m Deborah Nealon and I had a stroke.” because it was so much at the forefront of my mind. But as time passed, my stroke became a small part of my life because I feel I have overcome most of the deficits and have also overcome the fear and emotions that go with such a traumatic event.
    I now understand my stroke is what started this story, but it is the beginning portion, not the main course. It no longer defines me. However, I acknowledge that the healthy and satisfying life I’m now enjoying would not have begun without it.





    This information is provided as a resource to our readers. The tips, products or resources listed or linked to have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Stroke Association.

    Tuesday, August 27, 2019

    The Mark of a Volunteer


    www.strokecamp.org



    http://www.unitedstrokealliance.org/


    United Stroke Alliance in partnership with Medtronic launched a new resource for Stroke Support Groups called The Booster Box. Included in the box is everything a leader needs to conduct a support group meeting for up to 24 attendees.

    To receive your free Booster Box please call our office at 
    309-688-5450 or email info@strokecamp.org to request yours. 

    Subscriptions will be available for purchase and information will be inside your free box.  

    Show Me The Booster Box
    *****************************************************************
    *****************************************************************  
    For cell phones, holding in landscape position (long side toward your lap), will give the best presentation.
    *****************************************************************  


    Recently I had a medical issue. Well it was actually only the flu, but medical issue sounds more dramatic. Anyway, because of that medical issue, I was unable to attend the August Rockford, Illinois camp. 


    Hi, I'm Cheri. I'm here to help.
    How do I have to get Chuck out of trouble this time?


    One of our very active volunteers, Cheri, who was not scheduled for this camp, gave up a vacation day from her job to perform my Friday through Sunday camp duties. 



    I will be eternally grateful for her help.

    Cheri is also the coordinator and pit boss for the camp's Thursday night Bingo volunteers. Every Thursday the Tazewell Bingo Center allows us to assist them for the night which helps us raise funds to support our nation wide camps. 

    Tazewell Bingo Center gives back to the community by supporting 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charities. We are one of many charities taking advantage of this opportunity. Tazewell Bingo Center's mission is to support such nonprofits, thereby allowing charity services to remain in Central Illinois.

    Cheri was assigned to a few of the same camps I was so I thought I would show some of the pictures I took of her while there. 



    She also takes pictures at the camp and performa other duties such as assisting stroke survivors with crafts and other events we provide.   






    One of the sponsoring hospital volunteer nurses, Kim, is here assisting Cheri with craft materials.                                                                                                                                 

    The camp Cheri and I staffed in June had a really nice swimming pool and the weather was perfect for swimming. 







    Many of the stroke survivors took advantage of that opportunity, and Cheri, with other volunteers, joined them to ensure their comfort and safety.
    Here she is with volunteers Lori, Amanda and Georgia.


    On Friday nights we always try to have a marshmallow roast outdoors, and make what are called S'mores. S'mores are Graham Crackers sandwiches with a roasted marshmallow for the meat. Very sweet and very good. If you have attended any camp or cook-out you probably know what I'm talking about. The recipe dates back to the 1920's, so, if you haven't heard of them until now, I have finally contributed something wonderful to society .   

    This particular Friday night it rained so no campfire was possible, but does that stop us? No, no. We just move indoors and ignore the ole meany weather.




    Ha, HA! Canned heat! Yep, we try to think of everything to keep the camp fun going. 

    Michelle and Amanda will not be daunted by rainy weather either.



    Would you believe that a stroke survivor, unable to function on one whole side of their body plus not able to communicate fluently, would be able to zip down a zip-line...ALONE? Well they can and they do, and you can't imagine how powerful that simple event makes them feel. Guess who assists them to make that happen? 



    This is at the Illinois camp. We staff over 30 camps every year all over the U.S. and we are still growing. Whenever we see a zip-line at any of our camp grounds you can bet there will be a stroke survivor on it before the weekend is over. 

    But back to Cheri. If anyone deserves an award for volunteer services it would be Cheri and it should be an award as famous as the movie's Oscar. Well there is one but guess what? 


    Chuck, Can we put this down now? Chuck?
    Amanda, lets put this thing down.
    20 snapshots are enough.
    Cheri is the one handing them out.

       

    Sunday, August 11, 2019

    Helping Others Understand


    www.strokecamp.org



    http://www.unitedstrokealliance.org/


    United Stroke Alliance in partnership with Medtronic launched a new resource for Stroke Support Groups called The Booster Box. Included in the box is everything a leader needs to conduct a support group meeting for up to 24 attendees.

    To receive your free Booster Box please call our office at 
    309-688-5450 or email info@strokecamp.org to request yours. 

    Subscriptions will be available for purchase and information will be inside your free box.  

    Show Me The Booster Box
    *****************************************************************
    *****************************************************************  

    www.strokecamp.org



    http://www.unitedstrokealliance.org/


    United Stroke Alliance in partnership with Medtronic launched a new resource for Stroke Support Groups called The Booster Box. Included in the box is everything a leader needs to conduct a support group meeting for up to 24 attendees.

    To receive your free Booster Box please call our office at 
    309-688-5450 or email info@strokecamp.org to request yours. 

    Subscriptions will be available for purchase and information will be inside your free box.  

    Show Me The Booster Box
    *****************************************************************
    ******************************************************
    Helping Others Understand: 

    All Strokes Are Not the Same
    BY JON CASWELL

    Helping Others Understand is an open-ended, intermittent series designed to support stroke survivors and family caregivers with helping friends and family better understand the nuances, complications and realistic expectations for common post-stroke conditions. If there is a specific post-stroke condition you’d like to see us address in future issues, we invite you to let us know: strokeconnection@heart.org.
    illustration of man with cane
    Although stroke is not uncommon, it is possible for people to go through life and never know a stroke survivor. And those who do know a survivor may only know one. When it comes to stroke, knowing one is definitely not knowing all.

    Stroke is an interruption of blood flow to the brain, which produces unique consequences in the bodies, brains and lives of those who survive. Every stroke and recovery journey is different — and there are many reasons why that is the case. 

    They include:
    • How quickly the person having a stroke gets medical attention and the quality of medical care they receive
    • The type of stroke and the area and extent of the brain injury
    • Stroke-caused conditions that may negatively affect recovery
    • The quality and quantity of stroke rehabilitation available
    • The patient’s general health: Are they otherwise in shape? Are they managing other conditions?
    • Medications (and side effects)
    • The kind of family, friends and community support available
    • And, of course, the survivor’s own attitude and commitment to their recovery
    Each of the above contain a wide range of varying possibilities. The number of potential combinations of these variables is vast. It becomes easy to see how Aunt Mary’s stroke and recovery can look completely different than neighbor Jim’s.

    We talked with physiatrist Richard Zorowitz, chief medical informatics officer at MedStar National Rehabilitation Network, and professor of clinical rehabilitation medicine, Georgetown University, in Washington, D.C., about the many variables that affect stroke survivors and their recovery.

    The Survivor’s Age

    Age increases risk, but does it affect recovery? “Theoretically, age shouldn’t affect recovery,” Zorowitz said. “But of course, it all depends upon what survivors were doing prior to their stroke. If they were very active, they have a good shot at getting back to that. If you’re older and more debilitated, the chances of recovery are not going to be as good.”

    The Area & Extent of the Injury

    Perhaps more defining than age — and what makes every stroke different — is where it happens in the brain. “It is as the real estate people like to say, ‘Location, location, location,’” Zorowitz said. “Certainly, size [of the brain injury] can matter, but I think the location actually can matter even more. A small stroke in just the wrong place can be just as devastating as a much larger stroke. It’s a matter of what neural pathways are affected. You can actually have a fairly large subcortical (below the brain’s cortex) stroke and not do too badly. On the other hand, if you have a little stroke that hits one of the very critical areas where motor pathways travel, that could be very, very devastating.”

    To understand more about the effects of stroke on different areas of the brain, see our ongoing series “When Stroke Affects …,” on our Stroke Connection website.

    The Quality & Quantity of Rehab

    Yet another way survivors can differ is in the rehab they receive — how soon, how much and how good.

    How soon rehab starts after stroke makes a difference. “The rate of improvement actually occurs faster earlier on, so it’s important to get going with rehab as early as possible,” Zorowitz said. “Although, doing rehab months or even years afterwards can be very, very helpful.”

    “It comes down to that old adage, ‘How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.’”

    Dr. Richard Zorowitz
    Dr. Richard Zorowitz
    The quality of therapy is not uniform. How much rehab and how good the rehab is both make a difference as well. “Rehabilitation helps the brain reorganize itself,” Zorowitz said. “Intensive rehabilitation can actually help the patient to improve functionally to a much better degree than if you don’t have it.”

    Patients need to be properly matched with therapists who have the skills to give them appropriate therapy. Intensity and repetition make a big difference. “Repetition really is the key to the brain reorganizing itself,” Zorowitz said. “It comes down to that old adage, ‘How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, practice, practice.’ The more survivors do and the more appropriate are the things they do in rehab, the more likely they’re going to have a better outcome.”


    Co-occurring Conditions & Recurrent Stroke
    Co-occurring diseases, such as diabetes, unstable hypertension, other forms of cardiovascular disease and cancer, complicate recovery for stroke survivors. According to a 2017 study, unstable hypertension can prevent transfer to rehabilitation or may stop rehabilitation as high blood pressure raises the risk of a new stroke. Coronary artery disease or heart failure can limit participation in therapies, as can asthma. Diabetes can cause mental status problems that affect participation in therapies. While co-occurring conditions can affect a survivor’s stroke treatment, those diseases also need to be treated.

    “I think the major thing for patients and family members to understand is what medications are for and what are their potential side effects...”

    It is important for family members to know that surviving a stroke puts the survivor at increased risk of having another stroke — nearly a quarter of the 795,000 strokes that happen each year are recurrent strokes. Zorowitz said, “I think in terms of recurrent stroke, it’s very important for survivors to make sure that their risk factors and co-occurring conditions are being treated appropriately because otherwise, it will raise their risk of having another stroke.”


    Post-stroke Conditions
    illustration of woman sitting in chair with dog in her lap
    Beyond the physical, speech and cognitive deficits stroke leaves, survivors also differ in the conditions they experience post-stroke. For instance, it is not unusual for a survivor to experience post-stroke depression, but that is not universal. The same with pain and aphasia. “Any post-stroke condition like pain or depression or pseudobulbar affect can certainly affect the ability of patients to participate in therapy, and participation really is the key to making sure that patients can get better,” Zorowitz said. “It is very, very important that these conditions be identified and treated as soon as possible.”


    Medications & Side Effects

    Another variable among survivors is medications. Survivors may be discharged with a number of drugs they need to take. These can range from simple aspirin and anticoagulants like warfarin, which can put a survivor at risk of bleeding, to statins and high blood pressure meds. Survivors with diabetes may require medication for that. Pain, spasticity or depression are other post-stroke conditions that may require medication, each of which has its own side effects. “I think the major thing for patients and family members to understand is what medications are for and what are their potential side effects so that you can look out for them and be able to reverse them if needed,” Zorowitz said.


    Social & Emotional Support
    illustration of senior couple holding handsSocial support is another element that is unique to every survivor. “Does the patient have strong caregivers and family support?” Zorowitz asked. “That can make the difference in terms of the types of rehab that the patient will get because some of the regulations require that. For inpatient rehab, for example, the patient needs to have a place to go following their rehab. If they don’t, they probably shouldn’t be going to the inpatient rehab. If a patient has a good, supportive family and a good, supportive set of caregivers, the chances of them going home — even having severe impairments — is going to be much better than a patient who has no support. Studies have shown that the better the support system for the patient, the less likely they’ll experience depression, and the more likely that they’ll be able to go home and have a better quality of life.”
    Clearly, given these variables, strokes can impact individual survivors in very different ways. Two strokes in the same brain can also produce very different results.

    “For example, the speech centers are typically more in the left hemisphere than the right,” Zorowitz said. “So, if you have a stroke in the lower frontal area in the left hemisphere, the chances are you may end up with speech problems, like a non-fluent Broca’s aphasia. If you have a stroke in the same area on the other side, it may end up producing left hemineglect or problems with visual perceptual deficits. Location really does make a difference.”

    Stroke may be one disease, but it does not produce one outcome. Every stroke is different. The deficits it leaves are essentially unique.

    The Stroke Connection team knows that it can sometimes be hard for family and friends to understand how one survivor’s stroke experience can be so different from another’s. We encourage you to share this article with the people in your life — and, for those pressed for time, we’ve created a quick-reference sheet that you can print or share via email or social media with family and friends.

    Stroke is an interruption of blood flow to the brain, which produces unique consequences in the bodies, brains and lives of those who survive. Every stroke and recovery journey is different — and there are many factors that make that the case.

    How quickly the person gets medical attention and the quality of medical care they receive. Different types of strokes require different treatments. Getting immediate medical attention and appropriate treatment may significantly reduce long-term effects of stroke for some.


    The area and extent of the brain injury
    The location of the brain injury from the stroke is one of the greatest factors in how the survivor is affected and how well they are able to do in rehab. A small stroke in an area of the brain with lots of neural pathways can be more devastating than a larger stroke. To learn more about how different areas of the brain are affected by stroke, visit the Stroke Connection website.
    Stroke-caused conditions that may negatively affect recovery

    Survivors may experience a variety of conditions post-stroke, including depression, pain, spasticity, fatigue or pseudobulbar affect. Any of these may affect their ability to participate fully in rehab. It is important that these conditions be identified and treated as soon as possible.


    The quality and quantity of stroke rehabilitation available

    All rehab is not the same. Patients should be properly matched with therapists who have the skills to treat their particular needs. The intensity and repetition of rehab make a difference. Starting rehab early typically results in more and faster improvement. Some survivors have complications or circumstances that prevent them from starting rehab early.


    The survivor’s general health before the stroke

    Being fit before the stroke may help with recovery in some cases. However, factors such as the area and effects of the brain injury may prevent that. On the other hand, someone who is debilitated before their stroke is likely to have a harder time with recovery. Managing other diseases (diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc.) may complicate stroke treatment.


    Medications and side effects

    Survivors may have several prescribed medicines — aspirin, blood thinners, cholesterol and blood pressure medications. Pain, spasticity or depression may also require medication. Each medication has its own side effects. Some may impact the survivor’s ability to work on recovery.


    The kind of family, friends and community support available

    Social and family support play a big part in recovery. Do your best to understand how the stroke has affected the person you care about, and how those effects may impact their degree of recovery. Your understanding and support can go a long way to bolster one of the most important factors in recovery: The survivor’s own attitude and commitment to their recovery.


    This information is provided as a resource to our readers. The tips, products or resources listed or linked to have not been reviewed or endorsed by the American Stroke Association.​