It's been four years since Jessie Stone of Arroyo Grande had a stroke. The details are hard for her to recall, but she does remember feeling off. "What I know is that I was trying to get up and I couldn't. I wanted to answer the phone, but I couldn't get there," she said. The next thing she remembers is waking up in the hospital feeling weak and confused."It was like my limbs they didn't want to work," she said. "The brain is weird. There were a lot of strange things going on." San Luis Obispo Neurologist Dr. Thomas Clark said survival rates have gone up because hospital staff are trained to quickly recognize the signs of stroke. He also credits advancements in diagnostic imaging technology like CT scans. "Historically, people had a stroke, that was it. 30-40 years ago there was no treatment," said Dr. Clark. The course of treatment is based on which type of stroke a patient has, and there are two kinds. In an ischemic stroke, an obstruction in the artery robs the brain of blood and oxygen. According to the National Stroke Association, it occurs in 87-percent of patients. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks, leaking blood into the brain."Getting people to the hospital as soon as possible means they can be treated one way or the other and the damage can be limited," said Dr. Clark. Most often, an ischemic stroke can be treated with the clot busting drug, TPA. Dr. Clark said timing is critical to patient prognosis. A recent UCLA study shows almost two million brain cells die every minute when deprived of oxygen."When somebody develops a stroke, and they recognize it it takes quite a while. It takes 10 minutes, 15 minutes an hour before they even seek medical attention. Getting proper therapy and doing it quickly makes a difference. Jessie began physical and speech therapy shortly after her stroke and with the help and encouragement of her family and speech pathologist Dr. Lauren Stowe, she's greatly improved."When I first met Jessie, she couldn't go more than a minute before I had to ask her to repeat herself. She now can go 60 minutes and longer multiple times in different parts of the day in different settings without ever being asked to repeat herself," said Dr. Stowe. Jessie has become an advocate for survivors by starting her own website, jessiesmessage.com as well as a support group in San Luis Obispo. You can head to her website for times and locations.
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