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Caring for Those Who Have Suffered Strokes

A single stroke can be devastating, with the permanent brain damage that results changing a person’s life very much for the worse and for good. On the other hand, some people who suffer strokes make full or nearly full recoveries, with perhaps only a few subtle signs of the event lingering on. As a look at Lahey Hospital’s profile on Twitter will show, the kind of care that a stroke victim receives often turns out to be what makes the difference.

The human brain relies for its continued health and functioning on nearly constant access to oxygen-rich blood. When deprived of this resource for even a few minutes, the brain can start suffering damage, with much of this normally being irreversible. When a stroke of any kind cuts off the supply of blood to the brain or inhibits circulation at its border, there will often be very little room for error in the response. Failing to acknowledge that stroke has been suffered and seek the appropriate treatment and care can turn out to be a devastating mistake.

Caring most effectively for those who suffer strokes begins with accurate, detailed diagnosis. Because of the complexity of the brain and the various supporting structures, it can be difficult to assess just what has happened to any particular person. Doctors and nurses must therefore be trained to a very high standard to have a hope of being able to figure out what is happening to particular stroke patients. Only once an accurate diagnosis has been made and continuing monitoring established can a given patient be assured of having the best possible chances for recovery.

From this point forward, care will typically revolve around minimizing the damage that a stroke can do and beginning to work toward recovery, insofar as possible. While there will very often be at least some harm that cannot be reasonably targeted for reversal, there are generally effective ways of minimizing its effects. Many stroke patients, for example, end up benefiting in profound ways from occupational therapy and speech work, even if they can never expect to recover their faculties fully. Stroke care therefore often turns out include an appropriate mixture of immediate intervention and longer-term assistance.