Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Is a Square Knot The Best Stroke Therapy?

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You've suffered a right-hemisphere stroke, meaning the right side of your brain was impacted. The physical results, however, affect the left side of your body, resulting in weakness and partial paralysis. You've spent a harrowing three days on multiple hospital units, endured the poking and prodding of who-knows-how-many doctors and nurses and even, if you're not mistaken, a curious mechanic who happened to be passing through.

Now, it's time to go home. The thought of your own food and your own bed leaves you anxiously studying each excruciatingly slow tick of the clock.

Not so fast.

You watch in horror as the doctor hands your wife a white cotton strap, about three inches wide, and says, "Use this to tie down his right arm first thing each morning. It will help him regain the use of his left arm more quickly." What? The stroke must have affected your ears as well. Surely you heard that wrong...

Not at all. The therapy is known as Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (CIMT) and it is currently being studied at Emory University and six other medical centers across the country. The theory is relatively straightforward - to improve an impaired extremity it must be utilized to its fullest extent.

The results are promising. Patients treated with CIMT exhibited both quantitative and qualitative improvement that was superior to the standardized treatment group. The CIMT group was able to complete tasks at an 11% higher rate than the control group and they completed their tasks, on average, 50% faster.

OK - You've survived your first day at home. As you consider your circumstances you find a new wave of motivation washing over your weary body. Your wife takes no notice as you study the three-inch strap that secured your good arm to your side for much of the day. You look back and forth from the strap to your wife, then sit back and ponder the day you will once again have full use of both arms. Suddenly, you feel like reading Stephen King.

To learn more about CIMT, see this press release from Emory University.


Blogger The Lieurance Group said...

It helps to tie the arm down while the patient is still recovering! My dad could have used it. Now that he's pretty functional (albeit all right-handed), he's not so interested in suffering a tie-up for more recovery.

Still, it's amazing how our bodies work!



12:21 PM  

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