The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that as many as 795,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year. A stroke is a serious condition that can range in severity but that requires some patience throughout the recovery process. Learn more about what a stroke is and the recovery tips that can help you improve faster.
What Is a Stroke?
You can think of a stroke as the brain’s equivalent of a heart attack. It occurs when a part of your brain doesn’t receive enough blood flow, either because you have a blocked artery or because you were bleeding into your brain. If something blocks blood flow to your brain, the organ doesn’t receive the oxygen it needs.
Anyone can have a stroke, including children. That said, you may have a higher risk than others if you are older than 65 or if you have high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, or irregular heart rhythms.
The warning signs of a stroke are:
Sudden vision loss in one or both eyes
Loss of balance
Muscle weakness on one side of the body
Most strokes are ischemic, which means that blood clots have blocked the blood vessels to the brain. Plaque can also cause such a blockage. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when an artery in the brain breaks open or leaks blood into the brain. This blood puts a lot of pressure on brain cells.
Stroke Recovery Tips
If you’ve suffered a stroke, take the time to make the necessary changes to your lifestyle so that you can recover faster and perhaps even prevent future strokes.
Rest When Your Body Asks for It
The stroke and the recovery process both put a lot of stress on your body, and you need to listen to what it tells you. If fatigue becomes overwhelming, allow yourself to rest. As you recover, your brain needs sleep. Sleep helps improve movement recovery after a stroke, making it as vital as your rehabilitation exercises.
Good Nutrition Is Key
Your body needs all the right nutrients to heal more efficiently. This means sticking to a diet that is rich in vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and whole grains. Some vitamins are also essential for stroke recovery, including vitamin D, which you get from the sun but also from egg yolks, fatty fish, and cheese.
Vitamin B3, present in turkey, salmon, and chicken, is also crucial because it helps with neuroplasticity. Another excellent option is vitamin B12 because it can boost the function of nerve and brain cells. Eggs, poultry, and milk are also great sources. And If cholesterol is a concern, fish is a better option.
An additional vitamin to consider adding to your diet is vitamin C. You can find it in citrus fruits, as well as broccoli and bell peppers.
If you have dietary restrictions, consult your doctor about whether taking vitamin supplements is a good option for you. As you recover from a stroke, avoid alcohol and an excess amount of sugary foods and drinks, as well as foods rich in saturated fat.
Use the Affected Side of Your Body
Your brain focuses on efficiency. If you don’t use an affected limb or entire side of your body, your brain forgets how. For instance, if you spend days not using your right hand, it will assume it’s not an important part of the body and de-prioritize it.
As you recover, all movement is important. Even if you don’t fully control the limb or if you experience paralysis after the stroke, you can help by moving that part of your body with your hands.
Schedule Regular Visits to Your Doctor
Your doctor is one of your most powerful allies as you start healing from a stroke. They will be able to guide you through all of the stages of your recovery, offering advice and reassurance. They have experience treating strokes and can give you the right perspective on how your recovery is going. Speaking often and honestly with them is key.
Don’t Get Discouraged
Progress after a stroke tends to be slow, which can be discouraging. You may not see the kinds of huge improvements you may have expected, but that doesn’t mean that you aren’t improving at all.
One of the toughest moments in the stroke recovery process is the “plateau” that occurs after about three months. You may notice that recovery is slowing down. It doesn’t have to stop, however, if you continue with your rehabilitation programs.
To rewire itself, your brain needs constant stimulation. Speak with your doctor about finding the right therapies to perform at home so that you can continue making progress even after months after experiencing the stroke.
Communicate What You Feel
Another important aspect of recovering from a stroke is healing emotionally. Going through a serious issue like a stroke leaves you feeling vulnerable or like you’re alone with your worries.
Communicate with your loved ones and let them know what you’re feeling. If that’s not an option, reach out to support groups. Support groups allow you to meet others who have gone through similar situations and who have a good understanding of the challenges you face. For some people, turning to a therapist can be helpful, too.
Physical activity, even simply walking around a room, helps minimize high blood pressure. This means it can also assist in preventing future strokes. Exercise additionally boosts your mood by releasing endorphins.
Ask your doctor what exercise options are suitable for your needs. Never begin a regimen without the recommendation of your doctor.
Managing Life After a Stroke
Lingering stroke symptoms can be frustrating. They may leave you thinking that there’s nothing you can really do about them. That’s not necessarily true. Lately, the field of regenerative medicine has been turning to stem cell therapy options to help people manage better after a stroke.
Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, has the potential to replace damaged brain cells and restore some lost functions for post-stroke patients. MSCs (Mesenchymal Stem Cells) can potentially help post-stroke by reducing inflammation, promoting neuroprotection, and stimulating tissue repair in the damaged brain.
As with every treatment you’re considering, speak with your doctor to find out whether it might be a good choice for your needs.
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Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that primarily affects the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. It is characterized by inflammation, which can occur anywhere along the digestive tract from the mouth to the anus, although it most commonly affects the small intestine and the beginning of the large intestine (colon). Crohn’s disease is a lifelong condition that can cause a variety of symptoms and complications.
Some of the common symptoms of Crohn’s disease include:
Abdominal pain and cramping: This can range from mild to severe and is often located in the lower right abdomen.
Diarrhea: Chronic and sometimes bloody diarrhea is a common symptom.
Fatigue: Inflammation and other factors can lead to fatigue and a general sense of low energy.
Weight loss: Reduced appetite and malabsorption of nutrients can result in weight loss.
Loss of appetite: Inflammation can lead to decreased appetite and difficulties in maintaining a healthy diet.
Fever: Inflammation and infection can cause fever, especially during flare-ups.
Joint pain: Inflammatory processes can affect the joints, leading to pain and stiffness.
Skin and eye problems: Some individuals with Crohn’s disease might experience skin rashes and eye inflammation.
The exact cause of Crohn’s disease is not fully understood, but it is believed to result from a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors. The immune system in individuals with Crohn’s disease mistakenly attacks the healthy tissues of the digestive tract, leading to inflammation and the symptoms associated with the condition.
Crohn’s disease is a chronic condition with periods of flare-ups (active disease) and periods of remission (minimal to no symptoms). Treatment aims to manage symptoms, reduce inflammation, and improve quality of life. Treatment approaches might include medications to control inflammation, suppress the immune response, and alleviate symptoms.
In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to remove damaged portions of the intestine or address complications such as strictures (narrowing) or fistulas (abnormal connections between organs).
It’s important for individuals with Crohn’s disease to work closely with healthcare professionals, including gastroenterologists, to develop a personalized treatment plan and to manage the condition effectively.
What Testing is Done for Diagnosing Crohn’s Disease?
Diagnosing Crohn’s disease typically involves a combination of medical history assessment, physical examination, laboratory tests, and imaging studies. During the medical history assessment, a healthcare provider will inquire about the individual’s symptoms, their duration, and any family history of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
A physical examination might reveal signs of abdominal tenderness, swelling, or other indicators of inflammation. Laboratory tests such as blood tests can be conducted to assess for markers of inflammation, anemia, and nutritional deficiencies.
Additionally, stool samples may be analyzed to rule out infections and assess for the presence of blood or inflammation. To visualize the gastrointestinal tract, imaging studies like endoscopy and imaging techniques such as colonoscopy, upper endoscopy, capsule endoscopy, and imaging scans (such as CT scans and MRIs) are used.
These tests can help identify inflammation, ulcers, strictures, and other abnormalities characteristic of Crohn’s disease. Biopsy samples collected during endoscopy can provide further insight into the nature and extent of the inflammation.
The diagnosis of Crohn’s disease requires the integration of all these findings, as well as the exclusion of other conditions with similar symptoms, to arrive at an accurate and comprehensive diagnosis.
How is Crohn’s Disease Managed?
Crohn’s disease is managed through a combination of medical treatments, lifestyle modifications, and ongoing monitoring. The primary goal of management is to achieve and maintain remission (periods of minimal to no symptoms) while improving the individual’s quality of life.
Medical interventions often include medications that target inflammation, suppress the immune response, and alleviate symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and fatigue. These can include anti-inflammatory drugs, immunomodulators, biologics, and, more recently, Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors.
Lifestyle modifications, such as stress management techniques, regular exercise, and adequate hydration, can also play a crucial role in symptom control.
For severe cases or complications like strictures and fistulas, surgical intervention might be necessary to remove damaged sections of the intestine or address complications.
Regular follow-up with healthcare providers is important to monitor disease activity, adjust treatment plans, and manage potential side effects of medications. Crohn’s disease management is individualized, with treatment plans tailored to each person’s specific needs and response to therapies.
An integrated approach involving gastroenterologists, dietitians, mental health professionals, and support groups helps individuals navigate their condition effectively and maintain a good quality of life.
Can Regenerative Medicine Help Crohn’s Disease?
Regenerative medicine, also known as stem cell therapy, is an emerging field that focuses on harnessing the body’s own regenerative capabilities to treat and repair damaged tissues or organs. Stem cells have the potential to differentiate into various cell types and promote tissue repair.
Mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) are a type of adult stem cell that has gained attention for their potential therapeutic applications, including in the treatment of inflammatory and autoimmune conditions like Crohn’s disease. MSCs have the ability to modulate the immune response, reduce inflammation, and promote tissue repair, making them a promising candidate for regenerative medicine approaches. Potential mechanisms by which MSCs may benefit Crohn’s disease include:
Immunomodulation: MSCs have the ability to regulate immune responses, suppressing harmful inflammatory processes and promoting immune tolerance. This can help reduce the excessive immune response seen in Crohn’s disease.
Anti-Inflammatory Effects: MSCs secrete molecules that can dampen local inflammation and help create a more favorable environment for tissue healing.
Tissue Repair: MSCs have the potential to differentiate into various cell types, including those involved in tissue repair, thereby aiding in the regeneration of damaged intestinal tissue.
If you’re interested in MSC therapy for Crohn’s disease, discuss your options with a regenerative medicine specialist or healthcare provider who is knowledgeable to see if stem cell therapy is an opportunity for you to explore.
Mehling et al.’s study aimed to evaluate the safety of WJ-MSC therapy for a range of conditions and administration routines, including intravenous, intrathecal, and intra-articular delivery.
Wharton’s jelly (WJ) is the mucoid connective tissue that surrounds the vessels in the human umbilical cord and provides protection from compression and torsion in response to fetal movement.
According to this study, the use of WJ-MSCs has many advantages over autologous MSCs, including circumventing the pain and healing process of invasive stem cell harvesting from a patient. Additionally, WJ-MSCs offer the highest level of potency for therapeutic benefit and exhibit increased proliferation ability and anti-inflammatory effects.
Additionally, WJ-MSCs have been demonstrated to be safe and effective for many conditions. WJ-MSCs also do not cause or contribute to infusion-related toxicity, treatment-related adverse events, or ectopic tissue formation, even when administered at high dosages.
In this study, Mehling et al. confirm the safety of human allogeneic WJ-MSCs delivered at high doses and through multiple delivery routes (including intravenous (IV), intrathecal (IT), and Intraarticular (IA)).
Specifically, as part of this study, 22 subjects were evaluated for adverse events (AEs) for a period of 6 months following treatments with WJ-MSCs for a range of conditions, including neurological and osteoarthritic indications.
At the conclusion of the 6-month period of evaluation, the study reported an AE rate of 9.3% (3 subjects from the 32 doses administered in this study). The reported AEs consisted of chills and headaches, both transient and mild, and resolving without concern. While both of these AEs (headache and chills) are relatively common reactions to cell administration, 1 of the 3 AEs was deemed related to the administration procedure.
Additionally, blood profiling of 75 markers for health and disease in the subjects of this study demonstrated that WJ-MSC treatment poses no hematological safety concerns.
Considering the minimal occurrences of AEs observed following WJ-MSC therapy administered during this study, the authors support the use of WJ-MSC therapy for various indications in future clinical studies.
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