APEX Brain Centers

Life After Stroke: Effective Approaches to Treatment and Rehabilitation

Life after a stroke can be a challenging and uncertain time for patients and their families. The rehabilitation process is crucial in helping individuals regain their independence and improve their quality of life. 

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the importance of a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the unique needs of each person affected by a stroke. Our approach to rehabilitation emphasizes functional neurology and incorporates a variety of leading-edge therapies to support recovery and foster optimal mental health.

Stroke rehabilitation often begins shortly after the acute phase of stroke treatment and continues throughout the patient’s recovery journey. To that end, our team at APEX utilizes a range of techniques, including low-level laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, neurofeedback, balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care programs to support patients through all stages of the stroke recovery process.

With a focus on providing personalized and evidence-based care, we are dedicated to empowering patients to achieve their rehabilitation goals and regain their sense of self. Our approach prioritizes brain health and supports our three primary areas of admission, which include brain injury (both traumatic and acquired), cognitive impairment, and learning and behavioral disorders such as OCD, anxiety, ADHD, and addiction. By integrating these targeted therapies into our rehabilitation programs, we aim to enhance the overall effectiveness of the recovery process and help patients return to a fulfilling life after a stroke.

Understanding Strokes

Types of Strokes

A stroke is a medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, which can result in brain tissue damage. There are three main types of strokes: ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, and transient ischemic attack (TIA).

Ischemic stroke is the most common type and occurs when a blood clot blocks the blood flow to an area of the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding in and around the brain tissue. A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, also known as a “mini-stroke,” is a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain that usually lasts for a short period and doesn’t typically result in permanent damage.

Stroke Symptoms

Stroke symptoms can vary depending on the area of the brain affected and the severity of the disruption. Common symptoms include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking or understanding speech, sudden vision problems, dizziness, imbalance, and severe headache. Recognizing the signs of a stroke and seeking immediate medical attention is crucial for minimizing potential damage and improving the chances of recovery.

Stroke Treatment and Rehabilitation

One of the essential emergency treatments for ischemic stroke is the administration of a clot-busting medication called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) as soon as possible after the onset of symptoms. This drug can help dissolve the clot and restore blood flow to the affected part of the brain, reducing the risk of permanent damage. Studies have shown that patients who receive tPA treatment are more likely to recover fully or have less disability than patients who don’t receive the drug. A more detailed explanation on the causes and symptoms of stroke and other brain injuries can be found in this comprehensive guide.

Treatment and rehabilitation after a stroke is crucial in helping stroke survivors regain their independence and improve their quality of life. At APEX Brain Centers, we tailor our treatment plans to suit the individual needs of our patients, focusing on addressing the underlying neurological and metabolic impairments alongside traditional rehabilitation therapies.

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Post-Stroke Challenges

Life after a stroke can present various challenges depending on the severity and location of the stroke in the brain. Some common post-stroke challenges include:

  • Physical limitations: A stroke can result in difficulty with movement, including walking, use of limbs, and balance. We emphasize functional neurology and balance and vestibular therapies to address these challenges.
  • Speech and communication: Following a stroke, individuals may find it difficult to speak, understand language, or express themselves. Our approach combines low-level laser therapy, eye movement rehabilitation, neurofeedback, and the Interactive Metronome to support speech and communication recovery.
  • Cognitive impairments: Memory loss, attention issues, and problem-solving difficulties are common cognitive challenges after a stroke. At APEX, we utilize metabolic and nutritional therapies and hyperbaric oxygen therapy to enhance cognitive functioning and improve overall brain health.
  • Daily living activities: Stroke survivors might face challenges with daily activities such as eating, dressing, and bathing. Our comprehensive care approach includes home care programs designed to assist our patients in regaining independence in daily living routines.

Treatment Options After Stroke

Treatment options for life after a stroke can vary greatly, depending on the severity and type of stroke experienced. Generally, treatments focus on stabilizing the patient, reducing the risk of another stroke, and initiating rehabilitation to help regain lost skills and abilities.

Once a stroke survivor has been stabilized, their treatment plan may involve various professionals, including physical and occupational therapists, speech therapists, functional neurologists, medical neurologists, metabolic and nutritional specialists, and mental health experts. 

Functional neurology plays a critical role in stroke rehabilitation, as it focuses on assessing and treating specific brain regions affected by the stroke. By combining functional neurology with advanced treatment modalities such as low-level laser therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy, we are better able to enhance the brain’s natural healing process.

We also utilize balance and vestibular therapies, eye movement rehabilitation, frequency-based modalities, metabolic and nutritional therapies, and home care programs to promote optimum physical and cognitive health. These therapies serve to reinforce the brain’s plasticity, helping stroke survivors regain cognitive and motor functions.

In some cases, medications may be prescribed to manage stroke-related symptoms and prevent the formation of blood clots. These medications should complement the rehabilitative therapies offered at APEX Brain Centers, not replace them. By focusing on both addressing the root cause of a stroke and supporting the brain’s natural healing process, we provide a comprehensive, personalized approach to stroke recovery.

It is crucial to remember that each stroke survivor’s journey is unique, and the rehabilitation process may likely vary. At APEX Brain Centers, we are dedicated to providing a multi-faceted, patient-centered approach to brain injury rehabilitation. With a steadfast commitment to innovation and a focus on functional neurology, we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in promoting optimum health and well-being for our patients.

Over the past two decades, we’ve witnessed the profound impact of integrating other health services with our comprehensive approach. By addressing not only the physical aspects of brain health but also the psychological and emotional well-being of our patients, we have achieved remarkable results.

Rehabilitation Techniques in Stroke Recovery

To create an effective rehabilitation plan, we assess each patient’s needs and tailor our approach accordingly. Our goal is to help patients regain strength, movement, and coordination through a variety of targeted physical and neurological rehabilitation techniques. Therapies such as low-level (cold) laser therapy, hyperbaric oxygen therapy, electrical stimulation, whole body vibration, neurofeedback, audio-visual entrainment, and more have proven effective for countless post-stroke rehabilitation patients. These therapies are most often “stacked” or layered with one another to promote greater effectiveness. 

At APEX, we also emphasize nutrition and the importance of healthy fats in stroke recovery. Adequate nutrition is essential for supporting brain health, and our metabolic and nutritional therapies are designed to help patients optimize their intake of critical nutrients. By combining these comprehensive treatment approaches, we aim to maximize the potential for recovery in the aftermath of a stroke.

Stroke Rehabilitation Care Team

At APEX Brain Centers, our rehabilitation care team is composed of professionals specialized in functional neurology who work together to address the diverse needs of individuals recovering from a stroke. We all work in a collaborative environment, both internally and externally, to help patients regain their independence and attain the highest possible quality of life.

Overall, we at APEX Brain Centers work tirelessly to ensure that each individual’s unique needs are met throughout the recovery process, and we are dedicated to helping stroke survivors achieve the best possible outcomes in their journey to regain independence and restore their quality of life.

Inpatient and Outpatient Rehabilitation

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the importance of both inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation for individuals recovering from a stroke.

During inpatient rehabilitation, patients typically stay in a dedicated facility or hospital unit, where they receive round-the-clock care from medical professionals. This type of rehabilitation is essential for those who might require more structured and comprehensive rehabilitation services. With a team of skilled professionals, inpatient rehabilitation units aim to address various recovery aspects, from physical and cognitive impairments to emotional support. 

Conversely, outpatient therapy is typically a more flexible option for those who may not need, or qualify for, the intensive care provided in inpatient rehabilitation. Outpatient therapy may occur at outpatient centers such as ours, or even in patients’ homes. This type of rehabilitation allows patients to remain integrated within their communities and continue their daily activities while receiving necessary support and treatment. 

Regardless of whether an individual requires inpatient or outpatient rehabilitation, it is vital to choose the best therapy plan suited for their unique needs and recovery goals. At APEX, we prioritize providing personalized care, ensuring that our patients receive the proper treatments and therapies to improve their chances of successful rehabilitation and an enhanced quality of life.

Community and Social Support

Community and social support play a significant role in the lives of stroke survivors, as it is a positive prognostic indicator for physical and psychological outcomes after a stroke. These supports come from various sources, such as family, friends, significant others, social networks, religious organizations, or community groups.

We strive to help stroke survivors connect with the necessary resources and professionals who can support them in their journey towards recovery. By incorporating professionals such as social workers, coaches, and caregivers in patient care plans, we ensure that the diverse needs of stroke survivors are met.

One aspect of community participation for stroke survivors might involve social work, which can help address unmet social needs in life after stroke. A study highlighted the significant role social workers play in providing support, information, and resources to stroke survivors and their families.

We also understand that caregiver support needs to extend beyond the immediate discharge from the rehabilitation center. In fact, research has shown that caregiver support at discharge from inpatient rehabilitation positively influences physical and psychological outcomes after a stroke. Fostering ongoing relationships with caregivers and other professionals can provide stroke survivors with a continuous support network that promotes community participation and enhanced quality of life.

Our commitment to our patients’ well-being goes further, focusing on addressing the needs of individuals with brain injuries and prioritizing the therapies that are most effective for each patient.

Preventing Secondary Stroke

At APEX Brain Centers, we understand the importance of preventing secondary strokes after an initial stroke has occurred. To achieve this, we advocate for the adoption of a healthy lifestyle, which includes maintaining a balanced diet, incorporating physical activity, and managing risk factors such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

One of the key factors in preventing secondary strokes is controlling high blood pressure. We encourage our patients to monitor their blood pressure regularly and work with healthcare professionals to manage it through medication, diet changes, other lifestyle modifications, and medications when necessary. Consuming a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats can contribute to better blood pressure management.

Diabetes is another significant risk factor for stroke. It is crucial for those with diabetes to closely monitor and control their blood sugar levels. At APEX, our metabolic and nutritional therapies play an important role in helping our patients manage their diabetes more effectively.

Regular physical activity is essential in both stroke prevention and rehabilitation. Engaging in moderate-intensity exercise, such as walking, swimming, or yoga, can improve overall health, boost mood, and support the healing process after a stroke. Our experience for the past two decades has shown that mental health services become significantly more impactful when combined with functional neurology assessments and interventions.

Our commitment to preventing secondary strokes involves a comprehensive approach that addresses medical, neurological, nutritional, and lifestyle factors. By promoting a healthy lifestyle and individualized treatment plans, we hope to minimize the risk of future strokes and enhance the quality of life for our patients.

Dr. Michael S. Trayford is a Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist and Neurofeedback Specialist with over 20 years of experience in the practice of advanced functional neurology. He is one of the most highly sought-after brain rehabilitation specialists because of the life-changing outcomes his patients consistently experience. After over a decade in private practice and working alongside other pioneers in the field, Dr. Trayford developed his multimodal intensive brain training and rehabilitation program built around the science of Neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to learn and grow dependent upon the stimulation it receives from its environment. He later founded APEX Brain Centers to combine his ground-breaking rehabilitation approach with a unique patient and caretaker-centered care model. Under Dr. Trayford’s leadership, APEX Brain Centers has successfully treated thousands of patients and earned the reputation of a world-renowned brain training and rehabilitation practice. Since its inception, Dr. Trayford has been a leader of the Brain Training revolution treating patients worldwide. In addition, he is a published journal contributor and international lecturer. His experience with various patients of all ages and neurological conditions has given him a unique perspective on brain health and human performance. He is also well-versed in collaborating with other health care professionals, making him an invaluable asset to any care team. Dr. Trayford was awarded the Functional Neurologist of the Year distinction by the International Association of Functional Neurology and Rehabilitation, where he is a proud member and conference lecturer. Currently, he serves on the Advisory Council for the Dementia Society of America and the Board of Directors for the International Society for Neuroregulation and Research. He is also a servant leader who has dedicated his adult life to serving multiple communities through Rotary International and other notable causes. When he’s not treating patients, Dr. Trayford usually reads or researches anything related to the brain, human performance, and leadership. He also loves spending time outdoors with his wife Denise, their two daughters, and dogs in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. https://www.linkedin.com/in/drmichaeltrayford/

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