Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The perfect time to have a stroke?

I'd argue that the "best" age to have a stroke is 27. The entire brain is fully wired (the frontal lobe wires in the 26th year). You're young enough to undertake the rigors of recovery (recovery is statistically better the younger you are). But you're old enough to have your brain wired "normally" (recovery in children is often a mixed bag because the brain is not yet fully developed).

But what is the best day to have a stroke? Any day but the weekend. Turns out the having a stroke on the w/e means lower quality care than during the week. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Will and imagination

I do a ton of talks on stroke recovery. I come from the world of research. So my perspective is a bit different to the rehab clinicians I talk to. I do my best to ease them into the world of research. I explain where they can find leading edge stroke rehab info for themselves. I describe where we are in researching stroke recovery (not very far I’m afraid). I explain how the stuff from research can be used with their patients.

And there’s the rub. Therapists and other folks in rehab sometimes have a bit of difficulty imagining how to transfer the research to their practice.

"I'm in acute care (or skilled nursing, or an outpatient clinic, or in home care, or in long term care, etc.).  I can't implement this stuff. It takes too much time (or we don't have the equipment, or don't know how to bill for it, or nursing won't follow through, etc.). This stuff can't be used on my patients because they're not motivated enough (or have too many other medical problems, or are too "low level", or are too old, etc.)"

The core concepts of relearning how to move after stroke are simple. These concepts don’t have to be done clinically the way they’re done in research. In fact, they are often more effective in the clinic. They may be more effective because clinicians can change the treatment to fit individual survivors.  Research involves a one-size-fits-all implementation. Therapists can add and subtract, slow down and speed up, skip or add more treatments.  In research all those screw up consistency.

Some therapists have no problem with implementing this stuff. Some go well beyond what I suggest. For instance, they may dovetail suggested treatment options in a mix that is beyond anything researched. (Note to clinicians who do this: make sure you use valid and reliable outcome measures to prove to yourself that these things work.)

Whats the difference between those who can and those who can't?

Will and imagination.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

A test that predicts when survivors may die

A test of mental ability after stroke can predict how long a survivor will live (Find the study here.)

Poor performance on these tests can predict mortality in stroke survivors, a full decade before death. Previous tests have shown a link between heart disease and dementia after stroke and mortality. This is the first to show small amounts of cognitive decline correlating to mortality.

Here are the tests that they used.
The longer it takes to do the tests the more "impaired psychomotor speed." Participants that were the slowest third of the group for both tests were more likely to die.

In this study, the mean result for TMT A was 47 seconds and for TMT B, 119 seconds.

Also a decline in mental function before a stroke can be an indicator of an impending stroke.

Good luck!

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