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Life After Stroke: Personal Perspectives

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Summary & Participants

After suffering a stroke, many people experience post-stroke spasticity, muscle tightness that not only impairs mobility, but also impacts the life of their family and caregivers. Find out how two couples handled the after effects of stroke, and learn what treatments helped them improve their quality of life.

Medically Reviewed On: July 21, 2009

Webcast Transcript

ANNOUNCER: On the morning of his 43rd birthday, Arthur Cruz had a stroke.

ARTHUR CRUZ: About 6:00 in the morning I left for work and I couldn't feel good. I just fell down.

ANGELINA CRUZ: I guess for about a month, a month and a half, he was paralyzed. He couldn't move. He couldn't talk. They had to re-teach him how to speak, how to brush his teeth.

ANNOUNCER: The same life changing experience happened to Reggie Richardson.

REGGIE RICHARDSON: The stroke occurred in January of 1994. I was 52 then. I was right in the peak of my career. I'm a CPA. Partner in one of the largest firms in the world. I have two real interests in life, one was my business, I clearly love working with clients and the second I really enjoy doing is playing golf. The stroke adversely affected both of those.

ANNOUNCER: After having a stroke both Cruz and Richardson, had to face what many patients soon encounter--post stroke spasticity.

GERARD FRANCISCO, MD: Spasticity is a condition that is characterized by muscle tightness and spasm. It is one of the common complications after any stroke or traumatic brain injury.

CINDY IVANHOE, MD: That tightness can interfere with how people move. When that develops they find they can't open their hands to clean them or they can't hold a hairbrush or they can't reach for things or they have difficulty walking. There are some typical movement patterns that we see in patients who have spasticity, where their fingers may be flexed, their wrists flexed, their shoulders may turn inward, their elbows can be flexed. In the leg we see their toes tend to point down and their foot tends to turn inward. These are all things that interfere with their function.

ANGELINA CRUZ: I just remember him not using his hand at all you know at first. It just was very limp.

REGGIE RICHARDSON: The thing the stroke affected the most is my ability to use my right side.

ANNOUNCER: Untreated, spasticity may greatly interfere with a patient's quality of life.

ANGELINA CRUZ: It changes the way you feel about life. It changes the home, you know, because he took care of all of us, you know. I had to become the caretaker. I had to be the one that took care of the family and him.

REGGIE RICHARDSON: I clearly battled from a little bit of depression about it, so it was very disappointing to me not to be able to do what I could always do before.

NAN RICHARDSON: It was very frustrating to see someone who was so physically active and so assertive and very ambitious and being able to do so many things, that he accomplished suddenly to have to start over.

ANNOUNCER: Many patients often wonder if there are any treatment options available to help them.

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