A massive stroke is one that causes significant brain damage. The recovery prognosis for survivors of massive strokes is dependent on the extent of brain damage and how quickly early stroke treatment is given. Understanding the cause of stroke, symptoms and treatments can help caregivers provide the appropriate assistance to those who have suffered a massive stroke.
A stroke is either an interruption to the blood supply of brain cells or a rupture of brain blood arteries that causes bleeding into the brain. Some strokes are ischemic strokes--caused by a blockage, usually a blood clot, in an artery that supplies oxygen and nutrients to brain cells. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when cells are deprived of oxygen as blood pours into the brain due to a ruptured vessel. Pressure increases as the blood is unable to escape and further brain damage results.
Massive stroke survivors often struggle with communication and suffer from a condition called Dysarthria, meaning difficulty in word articulation. The prognosis for improvement in this area is good when stroke victims participate in speech therapy. The American Stroke Association recommends individualized treatment with a speech-language pathologist who has certification by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
A massive stroke can cause significant damage to muscles used for walking, eating, dressing and other daily activities. Although damaged brain tissue cannot be restored, the brain has the ability to reroute signals to undamaged areas to compensate and take up new functions. Studies by the University of California Los Angeles Health System noted that although patients are often paralyzed after a stroke, spontaneous recovery typically occurs over a 6-month time period. Prognosis for at least partial recovery is positive as the brain rewires and remaps itself.
Dysphagia is another word for difficulty with the process of swallowing. A massive stroke can damage the part of the brain that controls these muscles and causes stroke victims to choke on food, aspirate (breath in) saliva and cough during or after swallowing. The prognosis for improvement can vary from that of excellent to poor depending on the degree of brain damage and the ability of the patient to participate in therapy, which includes exercises, swallowing techniques and response to medications.
This condition can affect massive brain stroke victims who have had significant brain damage. Often misdiagnosed for coma, this syndrome causes a complete paralysis of all voluntary muscles, leaving the patient alert to his surroundings but unable to move or communicate. The prognosis for recovery caused by extensive damage from a massive stroke is poor. Patients often learn to communicate through vertical eye movements.