HealthBeat: Dramatic recovery after stroke


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Every year in the U.S. nearly 800,000 people have a stroke, according to the CDC.

One of those people lives right here in KELOLAND, and today they’re heading home for the first time since suffering a stroke.

It’s been a week of chaos for Maralyn Marks. The 89-year-old woke up Monday morning, not able to move her arm or leg.

“I just couldn’t raise my arm, I couldn’t get out of bed or anything. And so Treva came and she helped me and we got around and then she called the ambulance,” Marks said.

Dr. Divyajot Sandhu refers to her stroke as a ‘wake up’ stroke.

“There’s no timeline on this. Did they have the stroke when they first went to bed? Did they have the stroke two minutes before they woke up? We don’t know. So we started using imaging, specialized imaging and this is one of those images that I have pulled up,” Sandhu said.

That’s a CT perfusion image, the blue area displaying the part of her brain Sandhu says was at risk of damage.

“The important thing about that patch is that that is the part of the brain on the right side that controls all movement of the left leg, so if she loses this the left leg is not coming back,” Sandhu said.

But she didn’t lose any movement in her arm and her leg, and instead she’s looking forward to getting back to her life back at home.

Something, Sandhu says, is incredible.

“When you see it in person I mean that actually puts it into perspective, that’s when it hits home. No amount of articles presented at a national symposium, they compare to this,” Sandhu said.

Her recovery didn’t happen on its own though. Sandhu says using the CT perfusion image, and an MRI taken one after another, it was determined that the area of permanent damage in her brain was only a fraction of what was at risk.

“Now up until the middle of this year we were not able to give these patients this clock breaking medicine called TPA, tissue plasminogen activator,” Sandhu said.

But now research is making TPA an option for certain patients. And he says Marks is the first in the state to receive it.

“This is someone who it worked out well on. I’m not saying everyone is going to have this dramatic of a recovery, but this is an option,” Sandhu said.

Allowing Marks to continue living independently, just days after a stroke.

“When they told me they thought I could go home today I thought, woo oy! I proved them. So, I’m so pleased that things are going like they are and I got the help that I needed,” Marks said.

Sandhu adds that treatment is now available for people who suffer a stroke all the way up to 24 hours later, and in certain cases even past that.

To find out the warning signs of a stroke, click here.

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