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Why minutes count after a stroke

The brain is an amazing part of the human body that controls movement, keeps the body functioning and allows us to communicate our thoughts. It needs a continuous supply of oxygen, which comes from a steady flow of blood. If something happens to block that flow of blood, that cuts off the supply of oxygen, and brain cells begin to die within minutes. This interruption of blood flow, known as a stroke, can be from a blockage or a blood vessel that bursts open. Since the damage starts so quickly, it is important to take action as soon as possible.


Anyone who suddenly experiences numbness in a part of the body, a feeling of confusion, difficulty with balance or sight or a severe headache may be having a stroke. It can be tempting to want to take matters into your own hands and drive to the hospital, but the best option is to call 911 for an ambulance. Driving yourself or having someone else drive you can seriously delay treatment. Emergency medical teams that arrive in an ambulance can begin treatment the moment they arrive. These professionals can also gather information and relay it the hospital emergency room staff so treatment can begin as quickly as possible upon arrival. 


Once the hospital staff has been alerted, they will be able to determine the cause of the stroke through a brain scan. If the stroke is caused by a blood clot, they can administer a medication that can break up the clot. This medication, known as a thrombolytic, can significantly reduce the damage caused by a stroke if it is given within three hours of the onset of the symptoms. In cases where the stroke is caused by a burst blood vessel, endovascular procedures may be necessary. 

One method involves inserting a long tube through a major artery in the arm or leg. The doctor guides the tube up to the damaged vessel, so he can install a device to repair the vessel or slow the bleeding. Other times, the best option may be to address the bleeding with surgery during which a metal clip is inserted to stop blood loss. The effectiveness of any of these remedies is increased when done as soon as possible. 


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The more quickly steps are taken to help the brain start to heal after stroke treatment, the more successful the recovery. In many cases, rehabilitation begins within 24 hours. A recent study revealed that the two weeks following a stroke is the optimum window for the brain to begin to recover lost function. Some lost cells can regenerate, and sometimes the brain finds new paths to carry out functions. Starting an aggressive program of therapy is key for an effective recovery.


Recovering from a stroke is not easy, but it can be aided by experienced speech, physical and occupational therapists. These professionals have developed methods to help the brain regain function, and they also have strategies for overcoming limitations brought on by damage to the brain. Finding the best level of care is crucial for recovery. Whitehall of Deerfield has one of the most respected stroke and neurological programs on the North Shore. Taking a holistic approach, the staff assesses each patient’s physical, psychological and nutritional needs and provides needed therapies up to seven days a week. Unlike many other rehabilitation facilities, Whitehall of Deerfield can offer needed services on-site, including diagnostic testing with video swallow studies, ultrasound, paraffin treatments and VitalStim® electrical stimulation to improve swallowing. The facility also has a transitional suite where guests can try living independently to gain needed confidence before going home. All of these services are offered in an elegant environment where patients are treated like valued guests. 

One of the most respected short-term care facilities on the North Shore is Whitehall of Deerfield where guests can be assured of superior care. With excellent outcomes and a resort-like setting, Whitehall of Deerfield has consistently received Medicare’s highest rating in Medicare’s five-star rating system of nursing and post-hospital rehabilitation centers. Whitehall of Deerfield is also ranked #4 in Newsweek magazine’s 2022 list of best post-hospital rehabilitation and nursing care centers in Illinois—and has received U.S. News & World Report’s “Top Performing” rating. Learn more about the individualized, one-on-one therapy programs, world-class amenities and COVID-19 safety measures by visiting WhitehallofDeerfield.com or calling 847-945-4600.

300 Waukegan Road Deerfield, IL 60015 | 847.945.4600