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Stroke Recovery Discoveries

How to heal through exercise.

Stroke Recovery Discoveries
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The Bad News
Strokes are the second leading cause of death worldwide. Around three-quarters of all victims are 65 years or older, but strokes can happen at any age.

The Good News
Medical advances mean more people survive these cerebrovascular accidents.

Historically, rehabilitation focused on restoring basic functions, such as walking, and ended within a year. But evidence suggests healing can continue and that regular exercise offers crucial, ongoing benefits.

A Cleveland Clinic study found exercise on a motorised stationary bike appeared to give stroke patients an advantage in relearning everyday tasks and improved motor function of their arms.

Other studies have shown exercise improves mobility long after a stroke and reduces the physical decline that can cause another stroke. With a doctor’s approval, exercise should start early and continue indefinitely.

“In the first days after a stroke, even if the patients cannot move a limb, I tell them to imagine they are,” says Xabier Urra, a vascular neurologist at the Hospital Clinic of Barcelona researching the possible benefits of aerobic exercise in the first 24 hours after a stroke. “There are studies that show that when you imagine a motor task, you activate areas in the brain that are very similar to the ones that are activated when the motor task is actually performed.”

Otherwise, improve your diet, quit smoking, exercise regularly and control hypertension and cholesterol, and your risk of stroke will plummet.

Getting Behind the Wheel
Not all activities should be resumed as quickly as exercise. Drivers who have had recent strokes are more likely to make errors during complex driving tasks, according to research presented at the 2015 International Stroke Conference.



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