Tuesday, May 17, 2011


We can limit stroke’s impact on society

Weakness on one side of a person’s face, inability to elevate one arm completely and slurred speech are the hallmarks of an evolving stroke. These simple signs can diagnose the onset of stroke with approximately 90% certainty.

The month of May is set aside each year to raise awareness of the devastating impact of stroke on society.

Despite new, effective treatments available for stroke in the form of powerful “clot busting” medications like recombinant thromboplastin activator (rTPA), prevention remains the best “treatment.”

Major risk factors for stroke include diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, obesity, cardiac disease and smoking. Many of these conditions are controllable with regularly scheduled medications.

Unfortunately, medications alone are only part of the solution. Lifestyle changes including smoking cessation, diet and regular exercise are crucial. These steps toward better health require self-discipline and a willingness to accept personal responsibility to make good choices.

Another phase in the care and treatment of stroke is rehabilitation. The modalities involved in neurologic rehabilitation have recently become highlighted with Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords' assassination attempt. Early intervention with physical, speech and occupational therapies can mean the difference between a life of dependence and a full, functional return.

Technology in the form of computer programs that repeatedly train and test patients’ abilities are now an important part of any rehabilitation plan. This month, thanks to a donation, The William W. Backus Hospital will be opening a new rehabilitation area. This facility will be located on the hospital wing where most stroke patients are treated, allowing for easy accessibility for patients and staff.

While recognizing the early signs of stroke is crucial to recovery, it is only the beginning of a journey toward recovery.

Anthony G. Alessi, MD, is Medical Director of The William W. Backus Hospital Stroke Center and in private practice at NeuroDiagnostics, LLC, in Norwich. If you want to comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.backushospital.org/backus-blogs or e-mail Dr. Alessi at aalessi@wwbh.org

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?