Stroke Treatment Options
At the OHSU Stroke Center, our stroke specialists are experts in the most advanced stroke treatments.
Stroke care includes:
- Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke and seeking emergency medical care immediately
- Emergency response and treatment
- Hospital care and recovery
- Prevention of more strokes
- Stroke rehabilitation (therapy to help you recover as much function as possible)
Time Is Brain
From the moment of your first stroke symptom, emergency stroke doctors have only a few hours to determine the best treatment and prevent damage to the brain. If you have stroke symptoms, call 911.
The faster you call, the more brain tissue and function you can save. Healthcare workers have a saying: "Time is brain."
Immediate stroke treatment may include:
- Medication to dissolve the blood clot ("clot-busting" medication) given up to four and a half hours from the first symptoms
- Treatment to find and remove the clot (clot retrieval), up to eight hours from the first symptoms
- Medication to protect neurological (brain) tissue
- Blood vessel surgery to treat aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations and hemorrhagic strokes (strokes caused by bleeding in the brain)
The OHSU Stroke Center team may decide that other treatments will help. These can include:
- Removing a clot (clot retrieval) more than eight hours after symptoms start
- Using a small medical device (stent) to hold an artery open
- Doing surgery or another procedure to open a narrow carotid artery
After a stroke, the first hours and days are the most important. Doctors call this the acute care period. During this time, your brain is still at risk from the stroke. Your healthcare team does tests to learn what kind of stroke you had and decide on the best ways to reduce brain damage in these first critical hours.
Hospital Care after the Acute Stroke Care Period
After the acute care period (first days and hours after stroke) is over and the stroke cannot cause more brain damage, your healthcare team helps you recover, regain lost function and prevent more strokes.
Your healthcare team recommends the care they feel will help you the most. You might have stroke rehabilitation in the hospital or at a rehabilitation center. This treatment helps you regain as much function as possible that you lost from the stroke. Rehabilitation can help you make the transition from being in the hospital to being at home.
At the OHSU Stroke Center, we have a team of therapists who specialize in neurorehabilitation (rehabilitation for brain and nervous system disorders). They include physical therapists, occupational therapists and speech, language and cognitive (thinking) therapists.
Before you start rehabilitation, you might stay in a skilled nursing care facility. The stroke care you receive helps you prepare for therapy in a rehabilitation center. Whether you need skilled nursing care depends on your stroke, your general health and other factors.