Is there still hope for recovery 5 years after a stroke?

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I had a stoke in 2005 when I was 59 year old. It's now 2010. I am wheelchair confined because I suffer from pain in my legs. I also have trouble with gait and balance. I want to know if there is still help for me? I also have severe pain in my hand. My arm is drawn up and my shoulder is locked in place. Is there a new study for this or something to help this condition? Help me get the help I need to walk again or use my right hand again.

Expert Answer

James Castle, M.D. is a neurologist at NorthShore University HealthSystem (affiliated with The University of Chicago) and an expert on strokes.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of brain recovery after a stroke occurs within the first six months. At five years out, not much spontaneous brain recovery would be expected. However, I would not completely lose hope, as it is likely within your lifetime that some neuro-regenerative therapies may be forthcoming. I am not aware of any specific neuroregenerative research studies that are ongoing, but I was under the impression that Stanford University in Palo Alto, California may have one upcoming involving stem cell therapy. I am sure that other such studies will be on the way as well.

With regards to your muscle stifness and shoulder tightness, I would recommend seeing a well respected Physiatrist in your area. They are specifically trained in rehabilitation and treating spasticity. Another option would be to see an accupuncturist. Several stroke patients of mine have had very good results from seeing an accupuncturist. They have seen improvement in pain and mobility. Good luck!