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Stroke / Aneurysm Month

by | May 10, 2017 | Brain Health | 10 comments


Stroke / Aneurysm Awareness Month

Understand your risk for stroke. Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke.

Stroke / Aneurysm is the fifth leading cause of death in the US.  Injury to the brain, called a brain injury, can either be from an outside force, referred to as a traumatic brain injury or it can be from internal causes, referred to an acquired brain injury. Stroke and Aneurysm are both cardiovascular diseases causing acquired injury to the brain.

The differences between a stroke and an aneurysm and the importance of recognizing their respective symptoms are explained on Stroke / Aneurysm page.


  • A stroke happens every 40 seconds.
  • Every four minutes someone dies from stroke.
  • Up to 80% of strokes can be prevented.
  • Every year, about 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke—and about 1 out of 4 of those strokes are recurrent strokes.
  • Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability.

An estimated 6 million people in the United States, or 1 in 50, have an unruptured brain aneurysm. Every 18 seconds one ruptures, resulting in over 300,000 acquired brain injuries annually. In comparison, each year over almost 800,000 people sustain a stroke, or clot, to the brain.

I was one of the 300,000 who had an aneurysm rupture. My aneurysm took the form of a cerebral cavernous hemangioma, which is a bundle of capillaries versus a single weakened brain blood vessel. It had been leaking blood for 10 years, eventually causing enough damage that I lost consciousness while driving, resulting in a 60 mile an hour head-on automobile accident. Five months later, I had brain surgery to remove the cavernous hemangioma. I am extremely lucky that I survived not only the bleed out but also the resulting head-on auto accident! I will summarize many of the treatments available to help those who have suffered the damages of an acquired brain injury but I wanted to note that Neurofeedback, in particular, has been one of the key methods that helped me regain my life and restore the vital functions I lost from my ruptured aneurysm.

I am living proof that There is a Way!™

Stroke Definition

According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke can be defined as sudden brain damage and lack of blood flow to the brain caused by a clot or rupture of a blood vessel

The term “Brain Attack” is the most realistic description of a stroke and should warrant the same degree of emergency care as a heart attack. After all, your brain is your mind and your body’s most vital and delicate organ.

  • Brain cells begin to die from the moment symptoms are first noticed to the time treatment is received, therefore it is crucial to get help immediately.
  • Treatment is available and some options are most effective if administered within the first three hours after experiencing symptoms.
  • Your chances of walking away with little to no disability are greatly improved if you receive appropriate treatments early.
  • It is important that everyone learns how to recognize stroke symptoms and how to respond.

There are 2 types of stroke:

Ischemic Stroke is the most common type, accounting for about 87 percent of strokes, and can occur in two ways:

  • Embolic: Clot travels to the brain from another part of the body
  • Thrombotic: Clot develops in an artery

Hemorrhagic Stroke is a second type of stroke which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures. While hemorrhagic stroke is less common, it’s more deadly.

Signs of Having a Stroke

So how do you know if someone is having a stroke? The most common stroke symptoms are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you see someone having these symptoms or experience any of these symptoms yourself, call 9-1-1 immediately. Every minute matters!

The Stroke Association website describes the warning signs of a stroke.

FAST is a helpful mnemonic which is:

F= Face Drooping

A= Arm Weakness

S= Speech Difficulty

T= Time to call 911.

A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel or artery, or when a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When a stroke occurs, it kills brain cells in the area surrounding where the clot or breakage occurs.


Stroke Misconceptions

  • Myth:  Stroke cannot be prevented.
    Fact:  up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable.
  • Myth:  Stroke cannot be treated.
    Fact: Stroke can be treated, but requires emergency treatment. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience or see someone with stroke symptoms.
  • Myth:  Stroke only strikes the elderly.
    Fact:  Anyone of any age can have a stroke.
  • Myth:  Strokes are rare.
    Fact:  There are nearly 7 million stroke survivors just in the U.S. alone. And stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Myth:  Strokes are not hereditary.
    Fact:  Family history of stroke increases your likelihood of a stroke.
  • Myth:  Stroke recovery ends after 6 months.
    Fact: Stroke recovery can continue throughout a survivor’s life.

Stroke Prevention

High blood pressure is the single most important treatable risk factor for stroke. Preventing, diagnosing, and controlling it through lifestyle changes and medicine are critical to reducing stroke risks.

Take steps to reduce your risk for stroke:

  • Eat a healthy diet low in sodium with plenty of fruits and vegetables. 
  • Maintain a healthy weight. 
  • Be physically active. 
  • Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health website has information on quitting smoking.
  • Limit alcohol use. 
  • Prevent or manage your other health conditions, especially high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity. Visit CDC’s High Blood Pressure, Cholesterol, and Diabetes webpages on these conditions to learn more.

Post-Stroke Symptoms

Depending on which part of the brain that was affected, a person who suffered a stroke may experience emotional and physical symptoms including: fatigue, depression, sleep disorders, cognitive impairment, seizures, vision issues, mobility issues, pain, and speech impairment.

Methods of Treatment

To correct the cause of either a stroke or an aneurysm, you may be given medication and/or undergo brain surgery, as I did. In the case of a stroke, some methods break up the clot, while others remove it. If you had an aneurysm rupture, there are surgical methods to remove the damaged area and repair the surrounding vessels.

Treatment of the symptoms of a Stroke / Aneurysm

The various treatments for the damage caused by a stroke or an aneurysm, as listed on my website, are usually provided in out-patient rehabilitation facilities by an integrative team to help your regain your life.

These treatments can include:

Speech and Language Therapy:

  • Speech sound production: articulation, apraxia of speech, dysarthria, ataxia, dyskinesia
  • Resonance: hypernasality, hyponasality, cul-de-sac resonance, mixed resonance, voice:  phonation quality, pitch, loudness, respiration; Fluency: stuttering, cluttering
  • Language (comprehension and expression): phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics (language use, social aspects of communication), literacy (reading, writing, spelling), prelinguistic communication (e.g., joint attention, intentionality, communicative signaling), paralinguistic communication.
  • Feeding and swallowing: oral, pharyngeal, laryngeal, esophageal, orofacial myology (including tongue thrust), oral-motor functions.

Cognitive Therapy:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Problem solving
  • Executive functioning

Physical Therapy:

  • Encompasses exercises that help improve range of motion, muscle strength, coordination, endurance, flexibility, balance, motor skills, and general mobility (i.e., walking, climbing stairs, getting in and out of bed or chairs).
  • Tailored treatment programs are designed that are unique to each individual to help decrease deficit and restore function.
  • Therapy may also involve massage therapy, heat or water therapy, along with other interventions that will help improve a patient’s comfort and accelerate recovery.
  • The ultimate goal of the physical therapy is to restore maximum functional independence to each individual patient.

CranioSacral Therapy:

  • Developed by John Upledger, this therapy employs the concept of dynamic activity and relationship within the CranioSacral system. This therapy is a technique based on cranial osteopathy, with therapists believing that the natural movements of the skull bones come from the membrane that lines our nervous system structures leading to the brain and spinal cord. Improving the natural rhythmic movement helps to improve brain functioning.

Occupational Therapy:

  • Occupational therapy is designed to assess the function and potential complications related to the movement of upper extremities, daily living skills, cognition, vision, and perception. Together with the patient and family, an occupational therapist will help determine the best ways to perform daily living skills including showering, dressing, and attending to personal hygiene. The therapist will identify equipment that can help the patient while eating, dressing, and bathing.
  • In addition, occupational therapy helps an individual adapt to educational and classroom environments and the workplace. Occupational therapy can also be used to help brain-injured adults to improve their fine motor and social skills and to learn new techniques for managing everyday responsibilities such as shopping and household chores, as well as new ways of performing various job skills and how to avoid re-injury.


  • Psychotherapy is designed to increase awareness, within your choices of thought, feeling or action. Psychotherapy can increase the sense of well-being and can better manage discomfort or distress. Psychotherapy can help you to deal with behavioral or emotional problems and psychological reactions to life events.  There are several types of of Psychotherapy such as:
    • Insight Therapy – traditional talk therapy to gain insight and understanding from your past to help you modify how you feel.  Types include Freudian and Jungian therapy which are extremely useful in treating depression, anxiety and trauma and allowing self-exploration.
    • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)–  a type of psychotherapy that helps people change how they think, feel, or act in order to improve their mood, reduce stress, or achieve other important health and life goals. Some goals may be specific, such as reducing worrying or procrastination, whereas others can be more general, such as figuring out why one’s life seems to lack meaning, passion or direction, and figuring out what to do about it.  There are three parts to CBT:
      • How you think (cognitive) can and does change your behavior.
      • The way you think may be monitored and altered.
      • The desired behavior change may be affected through changes in the way you think.


Sometimes called drug or medication therapy, psychopharmacology includes the use of medications to help change or regulate mental activity, mood, and behavior. Antidepressants and anti-anxiety agents are among the most commonly prescribed psychopharmacologic drugs.

  • Psychopharmacologists are psychiatrists who specialize in the use of medications to lessen or eliminate psychological, neurological, and behavioral problems.


  • Acupuncture ancient form of Chinese medicine is centered around the body’s qi (also called chi), or natural energy flow. The subtle energy that flows through your body is as important to your health and well-being as the more traditionally recognized bodily functions.
  • Often when these energies become weak, disturbed or out of balance, we experience physical and emotional symptoms. In order to relieve these symptoms, the energy that flows through your body must be restored.


  • Reiki is a method of energy healing developed in Japan in 1922 and is currently practiced all over the world. Reiki utilizes a natural universal energy that helps to balance the client’s system and assists healing at all levels. Because it is relaxing and supports the healing process, it can help treat a wide variety of issues.
  • Reiki is especially effective for stress reduction, for increasing overall vitality, and for treating injuries. It can be used independently to maintain health. When medical conditions are present, it is used in conjunction with other medical or therapeutic techniques.


  • Biofeedback is a type of behavioral medicine that trains people to use information about their bodies to improve their health by monitoring skin temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and other body conditions to promote control over the normally involuntary nervous system through conditioning and relaxation.
  • There are four types of biofeedback. All employ some type of computer or monitoring device, along with electronic sensors to give information about what is going on in the body:
    • Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
    • Thermal (as seen in “mood rings” which measure skin temperature)
    • Muscular (Electromyography:EMG)
    • Neurological (Electroencephalography: EEG) also called Neurotherapy,  Neurobiofeedback or Neurofeedback, is a technology-based learning technique that uses a computer to give information to a person about his or her own brainwave pattern in the form of EEG activity, in order to train the person to modify his or her own brainwaves. When the brain is not functioning properly, evidence of this usually shows up in EEG activity. EEG Biofeedback assists a person to alter his or her own brainwave characteristics by challenging the brain to learn to reorganize and function better. The EEG Biofeedback technique is a process in which subtle brainwave information is amplified and shown back to the trainee in the form of a computer game. The object of the training is to re-educate the brain to make voluntary changes via computerized graphic displays and auditory signals that encourage a change in mental state and thus challenge the brain to function more effectively.

Water Therapy:

  • Water is a great healer and the ideal medium for rehabilitation, conditioning, training. Water therapy refers to treatments and exercises performed while submersed in water.
  • The hydrostatic (passive) and hydrodynamic (active) properties of water provide an optimal environment for safe and effective therapy and conditioning. With little or no weight bearing in the water, the injured or de-conditioned clients are able to return to desired activities quickly and safely.

Get Help Today

Our integrative team and 5 Prong Approach can provide you with many of these services along with advocate management and a prevention program specifically designed for you. As I noted, Neurofeedback in particular has been the method that helped me regain my life and restore the vital functions I lost from my ruptured aneurysm.

Based on my experience, you can believe that There is a Way™, especially when dealing with stroke or aneurysm!

– Dr. Diane©


Dr. Diane® Roberts Stoler, Ed.D.
7 Hodges Street
N. Andover, MA 01845
Phone: (800) 500-9971
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Dr. Diane is a catalyst for change

Image Credit Elaine Boucher

Within each person shines an inner light that illuminates our path and is the source of hope. Illness, trauma, suffering and grief can diminish the light and shroud hope. I am a catalyst for hope and change, offering a way to rekindle this inner light.

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