Stroke Survivor

A stroke survivor dedicated to helping people with disabilities live full lives.

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Commending Paul Berger

 Paul Named Virginia Advocate of the Year
AHA's "You're the Cure" Honor
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Stephanie receives Fairfax Caregiver

Stephanie blogs for Disruptive Women in Healthcare

News & Attitude For YOU: Research  - 2008

 Risk Thru Moderate Daily Exercise

Formerly sedentary individuals who participated in moderate daily exercise, walking 30 minutes a day, 6 days a week, showed significant benefits in reducing the symptoms of metabolic syndrome, even without changes to diet.

People with metabolic syndrome, defined as large waistlines, high blood pressure, harmful levels of cholesterol, and high blood sugar, are at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Study participants who exercised lost inches from their waistlines during the 8-month study, compared to the non-exercising control group who gained about half an inch in the same timeframe. These findings from the STRRIDE study add to an increasingly signficant body of medical evidence on the health benefits of walking.

Read a Reuters' news story on the study's findings, click here.

Read the American Journal of Cardiology's abstract in the
December 15, 2007 issue, click here.

Study Shows Risk of Blood Thinners

The American Heart Association-American Stroke Association has revised its guidelines for lowering the risk of cardio-vascular disease -- heart disease and stroke -- in women.

The guidelines take a "lifetime" view of cardiovascular disease, with information for healthy women, as well as those having a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. For example, a daily low-dose aspirin is recommended for healthy women over 65. For details, click here.

Rheumatoid Arthritis and CV Disease & Stroke

Certain types of drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis appear to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, according to a study of more than 4,000 patients in
15 different countries.

    Patients taking these disease- modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), particularly for longer periods of time, were shown to have fewer cardiovascular problems.

The study was published in the March 2008 issue of the journal, "Arthritis Research & Therapy," along with an editorial that helps to interpret the results.

Read the full article, click here

Predicting Stroke By Walking Speed

Slower walking speeds may signal a higher risk for ischemic stroke in older women, according to a study of 13,000 women. The slowest walkers had a 69% higher rate of stroke than the group of faster walkers, as measured by the amount of time they needed to walk about 20 feet. This relationship held even when excluding those women with known stroke risk factors like diabetes and high blood pressure.

The study was led by researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and published in the April 2008 issue of the journal, "Stroke."

Read the Stroke abstract, click here.

Fiber for Cardiovascular Health

Popcorn eaters have an 250 percent higher daily intake of whole grains and 22 percent greater fiber, according to a study analyzing data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Whole grains and fiber are considered an important dietary measure to prevent heart disease and stroke.

The study was published in the May 2008 issue of the "Journal of the American Dietetic Association.”

Depression and Return to Work After Stroke

Post-stroke mental health problems such as anxiety and depression may be as strong a factor as the severity of the stroke in predicting whether a person who had been working prior to stroke will be able to return to work.

A recent study of stroke survivors in New Zealand showed that 64% of those who had not returned to work had mental health problems when tested one month after their stroke, compared to 43% of those who had returned to work, according to a Reuters report on the study.

The study was published in the May 2008 issue of the journal "Stroke." Read the abstract, click here 

Hope for Arm Recovery in New Device

A new device developed by Australian researchers showed improvement in upper arm function in stroke survivors who used the device for 12 one-hour sessions over a 4 week period. The device, the Sensori-Motor Active Rehabilitation Training (SMART) Arm, is a non-robotic interactive training system designed for independent use by the stroke survivor.

The study was published in the June 2008 issue of the journal "Stroke." Read the abstract, click here.  

For a fact sheet on SMART Arm, click here

Activating Neuro Cells to Help Repair Brain Damage

Promising new research has identified ependymal cells, a specific type of stem cells in adult brain and spinal cord tissue that may be activated to help replace other cells damaged by stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other neurological diseases. Activating a person's own stem cells eliminates the risk of rejection associated with transplanting stem cells from others.

The study was conducted in animals by researchers at the University of California, Irvine and published in the online journal Neuroscience. For an article on the study, visit the online magazine, eLab genetics (24/07/2008),click here.

Tiny 3-D Ultrasound for Vascular Surgery

Researchers at Duke University have published a study showing that a miniaturized ultrasound probe, so small it can go inside blood vessels, could guide physicians in treating aneurysms, blockages that cause strokes, and other vascular conditions. Currently, physicians using tiny catheters that go inside the blood vessels (endovascular) are guided by external imaging devices that typically require contrast dyes injected into the blood stream.

This promising new ultrasound technology would not require the dyes, and could provide enhanced real-time imaging. Also, it is portable and can be taken to the patient.

For an article on the study published in the online magazine, (8/28/08), click here .

Longer Window for Clot-Busting Reported

Researchers at various European centers showed that a clot-busting drug can be used 3 to 4-1/2 hours after the start of an acute ischemic stroke (stroke caused by a blood clot). Current practice views the window for use of the clot-buster alteplase (Activase; tPA) up to 3 hours from the first symptoms of stroke.

The majority of strokes (80%) are caused by clots, blocking blood flow to the brain, but patients often don't get to the hospital in time to complete the CT scan and other tests needed to determine if tPA is appropriate. This study promises an extra hour and a half.

For an abstract on the study published in the September 25 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, click here.

Promising Directions in Reconnecting Neural Links

NIH-funded researchers have demonstrated that an artificial robotic-like link between the brain and muscles could restore movement in paralyzed limbs of animals. The study showed that a device which stimulated certain neurons in the brain could be translated by the animals to moving a cursor on a computer.

The research was funded by NIH and published in the October 15 online issue of "Nature," click here.

For a summary of the study on the NINDS website, click here.,

MRI Proof of Progress with Therapy. 

Finally, physicians have found a way to objectively document and report in their own peer-reviewed venues the benefit of post-stroke rehabilitation therapy.

    Researchers affiliated with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School used a robotic device connected to a functional MRI machine to capture brain activity and changes in the brain during and after treatment for an affected arm.

The research was conducted on patients whose strokes had occurred more than 6 months prior. To view an abstract of the presentation made at the 2008 meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), click here.

For a summary of the study from the RSNA Press Room, click here.

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