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May 28, 2013 > Diagnosis and Management of Stroke Advances - Stay Up-to-Date

Diagnosis and Management of Stroke Advances - Stay Up-to-Date

When Living with Stroke, Mobility Counts

When it comes to staying healthy, it's important to understand how quickly medical technology can advance - because conditions that may have been nearly untreatable as little as five years ago could have viable remedies today.

Next Tuesday, June 4, during a free Stroke Education Series seminar, Ash Jain, M.D., medical director of Washington Hospital's Stroke Program, will share the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of stroke, which remains the No. 1 cause of long-term disability in this country.

Staying Up-to-Date with Stroke Care

"Stroke is a disease process that is very often misunderstood," says Dr. Jain. "People have a lot of misconceptions. For example, when people think of stroke, many times they think it's something that only impacts the elderly population. The truth is that we continue to see more and more patients in the ER who are in their 40s, 50s and 60s."

Even if you don't think you're at risk for stroke, it's important to understand it, he notes. Why? Because it's very likely that it will impact someone you know. That said, the first step to combat stroke is to recognize it early and seek help, Dr. Jain says.

Just being aware of stroke symptoms and knowing to seek medical attention quickly can play a huge role in improved stroke outcomes. However, residents of Washington Township Health Care District are also lucky to have a certified Primary Stroke Center with comprehensive care operating in the local community.

"It is very important for people to be aware of the latest developments and what's to come in stroke care," says Dr. Jain. "Fortunately for residents, our program is always striving to achieve the most efficient means of diagnosis and proven acute management techniques that lead to the best possible outcomes for our patients."

One of the ways that Washington Hospital's program has done this is by actively seeking the most up-to-date data available, and then going beyond. The program at Washington Hospital provides care that is at the cutting edge of acute stroke management and has continued toward its goal of becoming a nationally recognized leader in the field.

"We modify our treatment strategies to keep up with advances on a regular basis and hence provide the latest care at a local level," he says. "The future of acute stroke management is constantly evolving, and we make great efforts to stay at the forefront of the research."

Despite widening treatment windows and impressive advancements that have allowed for vastly improved stroke outcomes in recent years, Dr. Jain notes that the role of community members remains as participants in the stroke care team.

"I ask people to take time to attend this free educational series and help themselves, their family and friends," Dr. Jain says. "What you learn during the Stroke Education Series at Washington Hospital could save a life in the future."

Use Mobility to Escape the Danger Zone

Doug Van Houten, R.N., clinical coordinator of Washington Hospital's Stroke Program, says there are many important components to recovery after stroke. One of the biggest, however, is mobility.

"After a stroke, if survivors don't remain mobile, I tell them that they are in the 'danger zone,'" he notes.

What does this mean? First off, it means they are more susceptible to complications like deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), skin breakdown, and pneumonia. But perhaps, even more importantly, immobility can greatly increase the chances of another stroke.

"It's the people who get started again after a stroke and start moving who are going to pull themselves out of the danger zone," Van Houten explains. "When people lose mobility, other things shut down as well, particularly for the elderly. Stroke makes you age faster, and part of what causes that is not being active."

The trend of aging faster starts with a loss of independence, causing many to become depressed and less able to do things for themselves, which in turn leads to a steady decline.

"People who get back to full mobility more often go on to have a high quality of life after stroke," he says. "Stroke deconditions you very rapidly, and that's why rehab is so important after stroke. I always want people to focus on what they can do to get better, and it starts with mobility."

He emphasizes that certain groups - particularly women, those of African American descent, and those older than 65 - have greater rates of disability and limitation after stroke, which makes it even more important for these populations to do what they can to both prevent stroke before it happens and/or work hard during stroke recovery to regain strength and mobility. Van Houten encourages people to find new ways of staying active.

"After rehab, stroke survivors need to make physical activity a priority," he says. "The longer physical function is reduced, the lower the chances of regaining full function. The advice to commit to daily exercise is particularly important in stroke survivors and even more important for the elderly."

Here are some of the tips he recommends to maintain mobility after stroke:
* Find a friend to walk with every morning. Focus on brisk walking and work up to at least 30 minutes per day.
* Learn new activities that improve mobility - yoga, tai chi exercises, pilates, etc.
* Force yourself to exercise in little ways - park at the end of the parking lot, take the stairs occasionally, work in the garden, etc.
* Find leisure activities that include physical activity - golf, croquet, throwing horseshoes, etc.
* Most importantly, schedule your physical activity to make sure you don't skip it.

Get the Answers

To learn more about what the future holds as far as diagnosis and acute management of stroke and to find new ways of staying mobile both before and after stroke, attend the free community education seminar on Tuesday, June 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Conrad E. Anderson, M.D. Auditorium, Rooms A and B, in the Washington West building at 2500 Mowry Avenue in Fremont.

To register, visit www.whhs.com or call (800) 963-7070.

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