Stroke Program Stays Ahead of the Curve, Seminar Focuses on Advancements in Stroke Care, Moving Forward After Stroke
When it comes to staying healthy, it's important to stay up-to-date about the latest advancements in medical care-and this is particularly true with stroke, which represents the leading cause of long-term disability and top five cause of death in the United States.
"Unfortunately, most people don't think about stroke until it affects them or someone close to them," says Ash Jain, M.D., medical director of Washington Hospital's Stroke Program. "People have a lot of misconceptions about the disease. They might think that stroke can't be prevented or treated, or they might think that it only happens to the elderly when we continue to see more and more patients in the ER who are in their 40s, 50s and 60s."
Next Tuesday, Oct. 1, during a free Stroke Education Series seminar, Dr. Jain will talk about the latest advances in the diagnosis and treatment of stroke.
Now is the Time to Learn About Stroke
According to Dr. Jain, the first step for community members in combatting stroke is to recognize it early and seek help, because just being aware of stroke symptoms and knowing to seek medical attention quickly can play a huge role in improved stroke outcomes. Once they can recognize signs of stroke and know to call 9-1-1, residents of Washington Township Health Care District have the added benefit of living close to a certified Primary Stroke Center that offers comprehensive care and free educational seminars.
"During this stage of the Free Stroke Education Series, I will be discussing the latest developments and what's to come in stroke care," says Dr. Jain. "Our program's goal is to achieve the most efficient means of diagnosis and proven acute management techniques, but it's also important that we educate the community about stroke."
One of the ways that Washington Hospital's program has stayed ahead of the curve 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, which enables us to 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."
Widening treatment windows and impressive advancements have allowed for better stroke outcomes in recent years, but Dr. Jain says the role of community members should not be forgotten.
"Now is the time to find out more about stroke," he notes. "What you learn at the next seminar could save your life or family member's life."
Portrait of a Stroke Survivor
Just as diagnosis and management of stroke continue to advance through the development of new technology and techniques, stroke survivors themselves also have to move forward in order to get better.
Doug Van Houten, R.N., clinical coordinator of Washington Hospital's Stroke Program, will talk about "Living with Stroke" at the upcoming seminar. He points to a participant in the hospital's Stroke Support Group, whom he calls "BT," as an example of a real-life stroke survivor success story.
"He's coming into his own and has been a really positive influence on the group," Van Houten explains. "He's not letting the stroke keep him back, and he's found a way to look at the positives in life and move forward in a way that is positive. I think because of that he's a happier person and he's not limiting his potential growth and restoration."
As someone who really enjoyed landscaping before his stroke, BT started working with terra cotta pots and growing succulents as a way to stay active with a pastime he enjoys.
"He brought a plant in for me," Van Houten recalls. "It was so perfectly balanced, and he had a couple of twigs in place that made it very artistic. He said he gets a feeling of peace from doing this."
Van Houten says this is what stroke recovery is all about-finding new ways enjoy life.
"Most people aren't prepared for the fact that stroke recovery is a long haul and that it takes a long time to make improvement," he points out. "Generally, most patients make the biggest improvement in four or five months. They might get to 80 percent functionality in 6 months. The next year they're at 82 percent, then 83 percent, then 84 percent."
"Progress gets slow toward the end, but even more important than regaining function, you're teaching yourself other coping mechanisms for enjoying life."
Another stroke survivor success story he cites is that of Gary Batchers, a 38-year-old physician who suffered a left-brain stroke. As a result, he couldn't use his right arm and leg and couldn't speak. He went on to become an artist.
"Certain things can happen and they may seem very negative at the time, but you confront the challenge and it leads you to a different pathway that you might not have taken before," Van Houten says. "This physician suffered a pretty devastating stroke, but he taught himself to draw with his left arm. He probably wouldn't have been an artist if the stroke had never happened."
"I don't want to call a stroke a gift, but these kinds of stories highlight the fact that the ultimate goal of a stroke survivor is to look at the new opportunity and make the most of the current situation."
Stay Ahead of the Learning Curve
To learn more about what future holds as far as diagnosis and acute management of stroke and to learn more about living with stroke, attend the free community education seminar on Tuesday, Oct. 1, 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.