A stroke is a pretty serious cardiac event.
Did you know that roughly 140,000 people die every year from strokes, just in the U.S. alone? Strokes are the third leading cause of death in America, and roughly 795,000 people experience a stroke per year.
Basically, a stroke is what happens when the arteries sending blood to or throughout your brain become damaged, a clot forms, and the flow of blood is cut off.
Without blood flow, the cells in your brain become starved for oxygen and begin to die. That cellular death can lead to impaired brain function, with different outcomes depending on the part of the brain where the stroke happens.
But the human body is ever resilient!
One doctor, found a way to get his brain working effectively again after a stroke. What worked for him may very well work for you too.
How to Repair Your Brain
Clinical psychologist David Roland suffered a stroke in mid-2009. As a result of the stroke, he suffered:
- Memory loss and deficits
- Extensive cognitive problems
- Loss of ¼ of his vision
- Attention deficits
For a man who was considered one of the top psychologists in Australia, this was quite a blow.
So what did he do?
1. Brain-training computer programs — The programs use simple exercises to help restore brain function after a stroke. Brain HQ from Posit Science is one such program designed to help stroke patients recover. By the end of six weeks of using the program, he had noticed significant improvements.
2. Mindfulness and meditation –– Just 10 minutes per day was all David could manage at first, but eventually he got up to 30 minutes of meditation and mindfulness exercises every day. Meditation has been proven to change your brain, and it can help to increase the effectiveness of exercises designed to strengthen your brain.
3. Exercise –– Gentle physical exercise is excellent for post-stroke recovery. David was recommended to do just 45 minutes of brisk walking per day. At the beginning, he couldn’t do strenuous exercise, but over time his body grew accustomed to it. Thanks to the benefits of exercise for brain function, it helped him to improve his mental abilities.
4. New activities –– Activities you enjoy help to increase serotonin and oxytocin levels in your brain, helping you to feel happier. But new activities trigger the production of new neurons and create new neural pathways in the brain. The challenge to the brain helps to strengthen it post-stroke.
5. Sleep –– Everyone knows that the quality of your sleep is directly linked to your brain function. During the REM phase, your brain produces myelin and forms new neurons. Sleeping is key for those recovering from brain injuries. David’s doctors recommended that he take a short rest every 90 to 120 minutes, allowing his brain to sift through the information he absorbed during each activity.
6. Music — Multiple studies have proven the benefits of music on the brain, so it should be no surprise that singing lessons helped David to improve his brain function. One study in Finland discovered that listening to music helped to recover post-stroke.
7. Proper Nutrition –– A diet rich with Omega-3 fatty acids is also important to repairing your brain after a stroke. Omega-3s help to increase the growth of neurons, improve your mood, and prevent a decline in your cognitive function. Foods like walnuts, flax seeds, and salmon play a major role in your brain health.
If these things worked for David Roland, they might work for you as well.