Health Watch: Stroke recovery

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Every 40 seconds, someone in America has a stroke. According to the CDC, stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability.

But only 10% of survivors fully recover.

So how can you maximize your recovery?

Start ASAP! Rehabilitation can start 24 to 48 hours after a stroke.

S. Tom Carmichael, MD, PhD, Geffen School of Medicine, UCLA, says to focus on the hard parts.

"So, if you're having trouble with reach and grasp of the arm, the key is to not let that dangle and open the peanut butter jar just with your good hand but to actively engage and try to use your hand in meaningful tasks," says Dr. Carmichael.

A strict physical and occupational therapy schedule should show results in the first four months, and many patients continue therapy up to two years after their stroke. But be careful - there are things that can slow recovery.

Dr. Carmichael adds, "There are a few things that may make things worse and that's if you strengthen some of the muscles that are preserved. I've had patients who will do a lot of arm curls, and that's actually the wrong thing to strengthen because there's a natural mismatch."

Stroke recovery apps like Medisafe, Constant Therapy, and Elevate, help with workouts, reminders, speech, and cognitive therapy.

Researchers at the Ohio State University College of Medicine have developed a novel stroke therapy that works better than the standard of care when tested in mice and dogs. Phase one clinical trials are the next step.
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