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

4 answers | Last updated: Oct 25, 2016 asked...

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 Answers

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!

Community Answers

Patsaison answered...

I was reading about and looking into Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT)for my mother after her stroke, and reading all types of books on stroke. HBOT is cited as being helpful, however the problem is to find an affordable therapy center. Most hospitals with HBOT facilities only treat the FDA approved conditions, not stroke. Private centers are available but questionable, plus it costs $200 or so per session (one hospital charges $2,000 per session--but not for stroke). Your could try Chinese medicine for stroke rehab--I did, and got some improvement and recovery, but my mother died of other complications before I had a chance to really help her recover. I also bought a mirror box for her but never got a chance to use it. I was also planning to use her NuStep Cross-trainer chair with attachments to help her in recovery, since it was cited as potentional helpful. Please do not give up hope. All is not lost, and you are still young. My mother was 93. The best is prevention, and I failed to keep her blood thin enough--how I regret that.

Oc1dean answered...

There really is no time limit on recovery. All the spontaneous recovery in the first 6-12 months is from the penumbra coming back online or the bleed draining. This is helped by what I call easy neuroplasticity, where you are working brain cells that are partially working. To recover functions in the dead brain area you need to facilitate hard neurolasticity, moving functions to another area in your brain. This might be accomplished by passive movement, mental imagery, mirror-box therapy. For the tight muscles you need to see a specialist to make sure that they don't develop into contractures, permanent shortening of tendons and muscles. Read about neurogenesis, Spark by John Ratey.

Oldbleu answered...

As a stroke surviver I can tell you that there should be no time limits on your recovery. Don't let anybody tell you different. Join the National Stroke Asociation.

Your doctor should give you something for pain. You have a frozen shoulder and should be treated for it. Get the magasine called, "Stroke Smart" from the National Stroke Assn. It's free. Just sign up for it. Use your computer to find out about products that can help. If you are on a statin that could be the cause of muscle pain. Look up the products called, "Cognizin Citicoline" and "Piracetam". They are known as Brain Food. Above all, It takes work on your part to recover from stroke. I had to relearn how to tie my shoes. It was work but I did it. I hope this helps.