Stroke Prevention Tips

Many strokes are avoidable

Stroke skull imageStroke is now the 4th leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in America with more than 800,000 people suffering a stroke every year. Because I’m a stroke neurologist, many people ask me how to prevent stroke.

Best stroke prevention

The best advice is:

  • Maintain good blood pressure (probably the most powerful way to prevent stroke)
  • Control other vascular conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol
  • Stop smoking
  • Avoid second-hand smoke
  • Exercise
  • Eat well
  • Don’t consume too much alcohol

In some types of stroke, family history plays a role; unfortunately, that is one influence that patients cannot control.  Continue reading

Stroke Rehabilitation Works

Images  licensed  for use by University of Michigan department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation for patient information brochures, web, other newsletter and PR. Excluding advertising in paid media.  Include photo credit for editorial use and provide Photographer three copies of printed pieces.  License is granted contingent on payment in full as per terms.  Copyright remains exclusive property of Photographer.

A U-M hand therapist uses the latest technology to help restore a patient’s hand function. 

Every year in the United States, more than 700,000 people have a stroke. We spoke with rehabilitation physician Edward S. Claflin, M.D., about the types of rehabilitation offered through U-M’s Stroke Rehabilitation Program and what to expect if you or a loved one need these services. 

When should a patient begin stroke rehabilitation?

There is no fixed timeline, but starting rehabilitation within several days after a stroke usually gives patients the best chance to maximize their recovery.

The medical or surgical team will ask for rehabilitation assessments by therapists as soon as it is deemed to be safe, and these therapists will continue to see patients in the hospital until they move to the next level of rehab.

How does stroke rehabilitation benefit patients?

Stroke patients will have some natural recovery without rehab, but there is much evidence that formal rehabilitation helps patients recover faster and better than they would otherwise. Our goal is to help patients achieve their best level of function after the stroke.

Does every patient need stroke rehabilitation?

Every patient will have a unique experience, and our staff develops an individualized rehabilitation plans for each person.  Continue reading

Essential tremor and how deep brain stimulation restores quality of life

A retired teacher's personal story

I had been dealing with some form of essential tremor (ET) for 10 to 15 years. It had become increasingly worse, to the extent that I had very little, if any, fine motor control and progressively compromised gross motor skills.

Elizabeth Scheffler's

Elizabeth Scheffler’s essential tremor has been treated successfully with deep brain stimulation surgery.

The tremor was bilateral (in both hands). I also had a head and voice tremor. It was most embarrassing because I couldn’t control it. Strangers remarked on it frequently and TSA at the airport was quite insistent that I needed a wheelchair. This led me to withdraw and limit social contacts.

It was not possible to carry a cup of coffee without spilling, eat a sandwich without shaking it apart or feed my then-infant grandson. Eventually, it became very difficult to cope with any daily tasks such as cooking (try flipping a pancake), buttoning clothes or putting on earrings or make-up. It was especially frustrating in this age of high-tech electronics with computers and cell phones. I had to give up most of the things I enjoyed like pottery, calligraphy and photography.

Medications (I tried three or four) made little or no impact on the tremors. One neurologist in Colorado was even treating me for Parkinson’s (which it turns out I do not have).  Continue reading

Memory Games for a Healthy Brain

We’ve all seen the ads for computer programs, memory games and apps that promise to help preserve our memory and other cognitive abilities. The problem with many commercial programs and apps is that you have to pay a monthly fee for something you may get tired of or that may not be enjoyable.Woman playing a memory game

The good news is that you don’t have to pay money to keep your brain active. You can find free brain games and puzzles on your smartphone, tablet or computer. There are also free apps and programs that help us eat right and move more, which further contribute to a healthy brain.

Brain games

Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and scrabble are old favorites that challenge our brain. Here are a few other apps and websites to check out:  Continue reading

The ABCs of Stroke

Stroke Health Issue CrosswordStroke is now the fourth leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. Because stroke is so prevalent, we all need to know about this harmful disease. We asked stroke neurologist Eric E. Adelman, M.D., to tell us more.

What are the warning signs of stroke?

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the signs of stroke. When you spot the signs, you’ll know you need to call 9-1-1 for help right away. F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • Face. Does the face look uneven?
  • Arm. Does one arm drift down?
  • Speech. Does the person’s speech sound strange?
  • Time. It’s time to call 9-1-1.

Why is it so important to get help quickly?

The time that passes between the first onset of symptoms and the administration of clot-dissolving treatment called tPA can make a difference in how well a person’s brain, arms, legs, speech or thinking ability recover. TPA stands for tissue plasminogen activator.

What exactly is stroke? Continue reading

Parkinson’s and Dance: New Partners

Herschel and Karen Ele

Karen and Herschel Ele

There’s a dance revolution going on—for people with Parkinson’s and their partners. And the U-M Turner Senior Wellness Program is right in step. Here is one caregiver’s story about how Turner’s Movement & Dance Class changed his life.

My wife Karen and I have participated in many support groups for Parkinson’s Disease (PD). I also belong to a support group for caregivers of patients with a dementia diagnosis. For us, the Parkinson’s Movement & Dance Class is the best of all of them.

A better relationship

Clearly, something very positive happened while taking the class.

Karen Ele (in purple jacket) at Turner's Parkinson's Movement and Dance Class

Karen Ele (in rear in purple jacket) at Turner’s Parkinson’s Movement & Dance Class

Participating in the class has contributed to a better relationship between us. Karen has looked forward to the classes each week, and although she finds them challenging, it gives her something to be engaged in.

As a care partner, I have gradually felt more and more at home, even though at first dance was outside my comfort zone. I have felt happier, healthier, more outgoing and more relaxed as a result of the class.  Continue reading