A Wyoming Medical Center neurologist shares recovery options for stroke paitents

Updated: May. 17, 2021 at 7:02 PM CDT
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CASPER, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - May is stroke awareness month. Wyoming News Now met with Dr. David Wheeler, a Wyoming Medical Center neurologist, and talks about stroke treatment.

How are strokes treated?

“The most important thing in a stroke is to first establish that it was caused by. Remember a stroke can be caused either by a blood clot that’s plugging up an artery in the brain or by rupture of an artery in the brain so when the artery ruptures the most important thing we can do is to try and stabilize the patient and control their blood pressure. There’s not a whole lot else we can do for that. Fortunately, that’s a pretty small percentage of strokes maybe about five percent are caused by arteries rupturing. Most strokes are caused by blood clots or other material that may plug up an artery in the brain so that’s ischemic stroke ischemic strokes can be treated in one of two ways; the most common way to treat it is to give medication that helps the body to dissolve clots really quickly. That drug is a clot-buster called tPA. The faster we can get that medication the more likely it is to work so if a patient is able to get to our hospital within four and a half hours of their stroke starting we almost always give them that medication and often times it will help dissolve the clot and they will get better,” Wheeler said.

Do clot busters always work?

“In some cases, a clot is so big that a clot-buster won’t work or they come in later than that four and a half-hour time window for treatment. If that’s the case, we need to use a different technique which is called mechanical thrombectomy. The interventional radiologist that works with me here will introduce a device into the arteries of the brain grab hold of that clot and pull it out. If we can do that before too many brain cells are lost we can sometimes we will see a complete recovery,” Wheeler said.

“What is recovery like for a stroke patient?”

“For most people, though some degree of injury will occur and for some people who don’t get here in time for treatment the stroke will have been completed. In those cases, the outcome and recovery will depend a lot on how large the stroke was and what part of the brain is involved. It’s really important to understand what symptoms that stroke injury will cause and to start working on a rehabilitation plan as early as possible so as soon as a person is admitted to our hospital here our physical occupational therapists and speech pathologists will start working with these patients to identify well to characterize their deficits develop a treatment plan to help them recover as quickly as possible. What we know is that if you start exercising early after a stroke the probability of a good outcome is increased significantly,” Wheeler said.

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