The Stroke Network, Inc )
Book Review: Stroke and the Family

By Lin Wisman


“Stroke and the Family” by Joel Stein, M.D., is an invaluable guide for families who are dealing with stroke. It is especially useful at the onset of a stroke. It not only explains what has happened, but provides guidelines the family would find helpful. The book is part of The Harvard University Press Family Health Guides.

The chapter entitled “Finding the Cause of Stroke” explains the importance of knowing what caused the stroke in order to provide the most effective treatment. This chapter explains the many different types of strokes and various methods (MRI, etc) that may be used to determine the cause. If you are looking for an explanation of a specific procedure, it may be explained in this chapter. This is also a good chapter to expand your understanding of the different types of strokes. This may be helpful if you are trying to understand better the type of stroke you or a loved one experienced. It is also a good way to broaden your knowledge of the situation of other stroke survivors.

He explains various medications given. If you want to know more about a specific medication, this is a great place to learn. He also addresses the issue of stroke risk. This may be of interest if you are worried about a second stroke.

He explains how the brain works, He writes about the different parts of brain and explains how the parts work as a whole. This is an interesting chapter to help understand how a specific type of stroke affected the brain. It explains what each part of the brain does and what outcome one may experience from damage.

Many of the medical complications which occur after stroke are discussed. This can help explain to the family some of the medical aftermaths (such as diabetes, urinary problems, and seizures) which may be experienced by the survivor. This long list can help to explain why specific problems occur.

Dr Stein explains the difference between recovery and rehabilitation and how they are two sides of the same coin. This is of interest to understand how the body is healing, how to help it heal, and how to help the survivor to deal with body changes. He discusses various tools which are used and may be used in the future towards recovery. He also cites the various practitioner roles.

Included are chapters addressing the issues of marriage and relationship and the impact on children and family. These are helpful chapters to better understand how stroke does not just happen to the patient. Rather all those who are close to the survivor must make adjustments.

The chapter on returning to work is of particular interest. He discusses how this issue is a different one for different people. He speaks of the role of work and how to handle the survivor’s participation in significant activity. This may not always be a job.

There is a series of chapters dealing with the most common problems experienced by stroke survivors after a stroke. These include weakness, loss of sensation or vision, problems with memory and thinking, emotional and personality changes, communication difficulties, swallowing difficulties, pain and muscle spasms. In each instance Dr Stein both explains the problem and tells of treatment approaches. If you are dealing with any of these issues you may learn nothing new. On the other hand his explanation may facilitate a deeper understanding.

His explanation of a home environment which is adaptive and safe is useful.. He points out that this may be a key to successful reintegration into the community. He gives a number of helpful suggestions. Suggestions are made room by room which helps one focus on one area at a time. If you are trying to find ways to make your home more livable for the stroke survivor this may be the place to look. If you think your home is already a good place the information he gives may help you to reevaluate and make simple changes.

Dr Stein spends time talking about mobility. He includes everything from helping the stroke survivor in and out of a car to selecting a wheelchair. He includes discussion of scooters, rollators, canes, walkers and braces. This is a great place to read up on how each mobility method can aid specific weaknesses. He points to the importance of the right aid to address a specific situation.

He includes a chapter on alternative medicine. This is an an important chapter for many members of The Stroke Network. He lists and addresses the most common alternatives used by stroke patients such as acupuncture, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, vitamins, yoga and tai chi. It is actually a long list and well worth reading to hear a doctor’s progressive advice.

The chapter which explains how medical research works may be important if the survivor is interested in participation. He explains both the risks and benefits.

This book is a comprehensive explanation of issues faced by stroke survivors and their families. It is recommended for those new to stroke and for those who would like to expand their knowledge.

Order the book.



Copyright © January 2007

The Stroke Network, Inc.

P.O. Box 492 Abingdon, Maryland 21009

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