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Strokes (Cerebrovascular Accidents or CVA)

To understand what a stroke is, why it does what it does, and why 
making a recovery prognosis is sketchy at best, you must first 
understand some basic anatomy of the brain.

The human brain is in constant need of oxygen and nutrients. The brain
gets these necessities from blood vessels. Blood reaches the brain
via two vast arteries located on either side of the neck.  These are
the carotid arteries.  The carotids branch out several times into
many smaller blood vessels that feed all areas of the brain.  

A CVA (stroke) occurs when one of the blood vessels feeding the brain
stops supplying blood to a particular area of the brain.  This may 
occur due to hardening of the artery, an embolism that dams up a blood
vessel, or the blood vessel begins to bleed.  

Brain tissue that is deprived of oxygen and nutrients for a period
of time dies.  Brain tissue does not regenerate.  The effects of a
stroke will vary greatly depending on what area of the brain has 
died and how large the area is.  Some stroke victims are paralized
on one side of their body, some can no longer speak, some have 
difficulties swallowing, some suffer "brain death", others simply die.
Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States.

After a patient suffers a CVA, there are two major goals.  Prevention
of another stroke through anticoagulant medications, and agressive
rehabilitation through physical and occupational therapy.  The degree
of rehabilitation is generally an unknown.  Some recover fully, while
others don't.  To answer why to this question would be a thesis not a
webpage.  There are an infinate number of factors, one of which is 
the mystery of the human brain itself.

After the initial hospitalization following the stroke, a patient may 
be advised to go to a facility specializing in rehab for stroke 
victims.  This is not a nursing home, nor the club med.  Patients 
there are monitored carefully by nursing staff, and physical therapy
as well as occupational therapy occur on a daily basis.  There is 
hope for a good recovery when the patient is willing to work with 
his therapists, and he is surrounded by a loving group of family
and friends.

Helpful Links About Strokes

Health Guide: Stroke: Great page talking about the warning signs and how to cope with a stroke.
National Stroke Association: Tips on Prevention of strokes, and support for stroke sufferers.
What You Need To Know About Strokes: All the information you need, is right here.
Stroke Links: UAB has put together a wonderful list of links that anyone can find useful.
Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disease:: A guide for patients and their families

My Other Pages

Mary Jane's Neurology Page: My Main Neuro Page
Mary Jane's page on Parkinson's Disease: My page of information about Parkinson's Disease
Mary Jane's Page on Epilepsy: The Information I've gathered about Epilepsy.
Mary Jane's Own Little Space on the Internet: My Personal Homepage
My Guestbook: Come in and write what's on your mind.

Someone's been by times.