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Posts by Amy


The PFO Issue

I have a PFO.  If you found this post by searching for PFO, then you know what it is.  If you don’t know, PFO stands for patent foramen ovale.  It is a ‘hole’ in the heart.  The blood in the upper chambers of my heart (the atria) flows back and forth sometimes.  There should be a solid wall there separating them but in my heart there is a little open flap that allows the blood to flow straight across.  The medical term for this is shunting.  Shunting can produce a blood clot.  A PFO is present in about 25% of the population.  Most of the time,  people with this don’t know it and are completely symptom free.  There has been a long standing theory that having a PFO increases stroke risk.  My neurosurgeon, the one who opened up my skull, said that my PFO caused my stroke and that I should get it closed.  So, I was referred to a cardiologist.  He had the opposite opinion.  He said that the PFO probably had nothing to do with my stroke and the risks of having it closed outweighed the benefits.  So, I read the research (powerpoint presentation).  I agree with my cardiologist.  The research is pretty conclusive that a PFO does not increase stroke risk.  I didn’t have mine closed.  I chose not to close it and I have pretty much eliminated all other risk factors.  Here’s hoping no future strokes!


Treadmill for Stroke Recovery

I am of the opinion that one of the best things you can do for yourself after a stroke is buy a treadmill – if you can walk that is.  If you can’t walk yet leave it to the rehab professionals.  But, as soon as you can walk, buy a treadmill for your home.  You don’t have to go fast, go really slow if you need to.  Be safe, safety first.  A treadmill does a lot of things.  First, it gets you walking, this will improve your gait.   There are published research studies that say treadmill walking helps neuroplasticity.  This is the rewiring of the brain.   I was a lucky one – I could walk soon after my stroke.  So after a few months I bought a treadmill.  At first I walked a ton.  I just got on the treadmill everyday.  Now, this is my routine….a 5 minute warm-up followed by 30 minutes of intervals followed by 20-30 more minutes of just plain walking.  For more info on interval training go here.  I absolutely love my treadmill.


My Story :)

Hi everyone! The story of my stroke begins a little over a year ago.  I was at work as a physical therapist.  I had a very promising career ahead of me as I had just become “Mckenzie certified” after only 4 years of practice.  That’s a big deal in the PT world.  Then everything changed.  I had just arrived at work and I felt/heard something in my neck.  I thought it would go away but it didn’t.  It all happened very fast.  The next thing that happened was my legs stopped working and I collapsed.  Then I got really nauseous and vomited on the floor, several times.  Then I passed out.  Next thing I knew I woke up in the ICU 3 days later.  I had had a massive cerebellar stroke that affected both sides of my brain.  Really it was 2 strokes.  I was 30 years old.  I had a cranial decompression to allow my brain to swell.  So I was bald.  I knew right away – a bald head only means one thing – brain surgery.  I was more upset at the time about losing my hair, I had really nice hair.  🙂  I have a lot of deficits.  I have poor balance, an intention tremor, ataxia, and my speech is very messed up.  However, I have made a ton of progress in a year because I worked hard.  I refuse to settle for anything less than a full recovery.  I’m doing this blog because it will be therapeutic for me and I want other stroke survivors to know that there is hope if you work hard.  The brain is constantly changing and adapting, even as an adult and it happens forever.  So don’t believe anyone telling you that the way you are in 6 months/a year/2 years is how you’re going to be forever.  That’s malarky!  The reason I named this blog what I did is because there is a lot less information on the internet about cerebellar strokes.  I think this blog will help all stroke survivors but I especially want cerebellar stroke survivors to have this as a resource.  Here’s a good site.  Happy reading!  🙂