Stroke Recovery | Norton Healthcare Louisville, Ky.

Stroke Recovery

Stroke recovery starts as soon as blood flow is restored to your brain. The specialists at Norton Neuroscience Institute will work to determine the cause of the stroke and work with you on a customized plan toward preventing another stroke.

Norton Neuroscience Institute is dedicated to preventing a stroke, treating a stroke and reducing your chance of another stroke.

What Causes a Stroke?

Many common conditions contribute to your stroke risk. Addressing the underlying cause of a stroke is most successful when a multidisciplinary approach is taken that collects the viewpoints from physicians with deep knowledge in their own specialty.

The board-certified and fellowship-trained Norton Neuroscience Institute stroke neurologists work closely with neurosurgeons, cardiologists, electrophysiologists, vascular surgeons, hematologists and others to determine and treat the cause of your stroke. A care plan is developed by this team to treat or manage conditions that can lead to a repeat stroke.

Symptoms of Stroke — BE FAST*

  • Balance — loss of balance, coordination or dizziness
  • Eyes — having trouble seeing or change in vision in one or both eyes
  • Face — uneven smile or face looks uneven, droopy or is numb
  • Arms — one arm drops when raising both arms; numbness or weakness in one arm
  • Speech — trouble speaking; slurred or difficult speech
  • Time — Note the time when symptoms start: Time lost equals brain lost.

*Adapted from Intermountain Healthcare. BE FAST was developed by Intermountain Healthcare, as an adaptation of the FAST model implemented by the American Stroke Association. Reproduced with permission from Intermountain Healthcare. Copyright 2011, Intermountain Healthcare.

Common causes of stroke include:

  • High blood pressure. Also called hypertension, this is the biggest cause of stroke. High blood pressure damages blood vessels, making them more likely to develop clots or rupture.
  • Tobacco, especially smoking. Smoking increases your risk of having a stroke and dying from a stroke. Cigarettes can decrease the levels of “good” low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. Carbon monoxide from tobacco smoke decreases the amount oxygen in your blood, and nicotine makes your heart beat faster. The chemicals in tobacco smoke also can increase your chance of blood clots by making platelets more likely to stick together.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Elevated high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels cause plaque to build up in your blood vessels. This can have consequences for your heart health, but the plaque also can break loose and lodge in your brain or an artery supplying blood to the brain, causing a stroke.
  • Uncontrolled glucose levels can cause blood vessels to change anywhere in the body. If it happens in the brain, stroke can be a result. Patients with diabetes are more likely to die from stroke.

Heart Disease and Stroke

An ischemic stroke (blood clot blocking blood flow in the brain) often can be traced to cardiovascular conditions such as atrial fibrillation, atherosclerosis and carotid artery disease.

Treating these underlying conditions can help prevent another stroke. Our stroke neurologists work with the specialists at Norton Heart & Vascular Institute to reduce your stroke risk.

Patients with atrial fibrillation (A-fib), an irregular heart rhythm, that isn’t caused by a heart valve condition, are at high risk for stroke. In A-fib, the chambers at top of the heart — the atria —  don’t pump out all the blood, making blot clots more likely.

More than 90% of stroke-causing clots that originate in the heart come from the left atrial appendage. This pouch of flesh on the heart serves no known purpose. For many patients, closing the appendage with a minimally invasive left atrial appendage closure procedure can reduce their stroke risk and allow them to stop taking blood thinners.

Carotid artery disease — a buildup of plaque in the arteries that deliver blood to your brain — causes an estimated 20% of strokes. Many patients can take advantage of a minimally invasive transcarotid artery revascularization (TCAR) procedure. TCAR currently is used on patients who may have difficulty with traditional open surgery to remove the plaque.

What Happens After a Stroke?

A stroke typically happens suddenly with no gradual progression that allows for preparation, grieving and coping.

Many patients will recover quickly and fully from a stroke. Some may have post-stroke conditions such as difficulty swallowing, weakness and paralysis, incontinence, difficulty speaking or understanding, emotional challenges or poor attention span.

If a stroke was on the right side of the brain, there may be left-side weakness, impulsiveness, overconfidence in abilities and vision issues to deal with. A stroke on the left side of the brain can be associated with weakness on the right side of the body, along with difficulty speaking, reading, writing or understanding language, and a cautious behavioral style.

The Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center offers a number of services to patients recovering from strokes.

  • Support groups, including one for young stroke survivors
  • Exercise classes
  • Art and music therapy
  • Access to a social worker and disability representative
  • Transportation assistance screening
  • Screening for other community and government resources
  • Lego therapy program to help exercise the mind.

With the changes and stress that come with caring for a loved one who has survived a stroke, caregivers and family members also may be at risk for depression, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. Our stroke support groups are for survivors and their family members, friends and caregivers.

Norton Healthcare’s rehabilitation services offer specialized outpatient physical, occupational and speech therapy at locations downtown, on the Norton Brownsboro Hospital campus and on the Norton Healthcare – St. Matthews campus.

Cressman Neurological Rehabilitation on the Norton Brownsboro campus offers access to some of the most advanced technology and specialized services in one location to help with gait, balance, strength, flexibility, speech, fine motor skills, swallowing, driving, cognition, vision and more.

Care That’s Focused on You

  • We operate Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center — the area’s only center dedicated to helping you and your family navigate your lives after a stroke. The Norton Healthcare Foundation funds this important service, so patients don’t need to pay.
  • We have dedicated patient navigators who can help with transportation, schedule follow-up appointments and confirm that you can afford prescriptions.
  • We provide support groups and exercise classes, develop customized diet plans and can help with issues such as access to disability assistance, housing, and financial and employment advice.
  • At Norton Neuroscience Institute, we want to help you get better and well as prevent you from getting sick in the first place. Get help quitting smoking and learn the signs of stroke at Norton Healthcare Prevention & Wellness.
  • Communicate with your provider, manage appointments, refill prescriptions and more anytime from a computer or mobile device with a free MyNortonChart account.

About Norton Neuroscience Institute

More patients from Louisville and Southern Indiana seek treatment from Norton Neuroscience Institute’s nationally recognized neurologists and neurosurgeons than any other provider in the area.

  • We have more than 60 medical, surgical and research specialists dedicated to providing innovative care to those with brain, spine and nervous system conditions.
  • We use advanced minimally invasive neurosurgery equipment that speeds your recovery and minimizes pain.
  • Our multidisciplinary clinics offer easy access to specialists in oncology, cardiovascular, orthopedics,  and behavioral health.
  • Norton Healthcare has the largest network of accredited stroke centers in the area.
    • Norton Brownsboro Hospital’s designation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission and American Stroke Association represents the highest level of care.
    • The Joint Commission also certified Norton Audubon Hospital and Norton Hospital as Primary Stroke Centers and Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital.
  • Norton Neuroscience Institute Resource Center navigators help educate patients and their families about new diagnoses, available treatments and managing their disease.
  • We are nationally recognized by Becker’s Hospital Review as a Top 100 neurosurgery and spine program.
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