Stroke and Bowenwork

Bowen News A monthly newsletter by Kevin Minney

Stroke and Bowenwork

The term stroke refers to what could be called a brain attack, with the damage coming to the brain instead of the heart. This attack can be a devastating blow to an individual and their family/support system with lifelong effects to deal with. There are different types of strokes as well as different areas of the brain that can be affected. There can be many different symptoms as a result.

The two types of strokes are ischemic and hemorrhagic. In the ischemic type sometimes an artery bringing blood to part of the brain gets blocked because arteriosclerosis has caused the inside walls of the artery to thicken up so the opening is too narrow for enough blood to get through or a blood clot gets stuck in the tube This means that not enough blood is getting to the brain cells in that area. Cells cannot live without oxygen, so if the blood supply is cut off, nerve cells die and that part of the brain stops working and some body functions are impaired. Ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke.

In the hemorrhagic type of stroke, blood bursts through the walls of an artery and leaks into the brain (intracerebral hemorrhage) or onto the surface of the brain (subarachnoid hemorrhage). Blood is forced into brain tissue and because there isn’t much space around the brain in the skull cavity, the build up of blood presses on the part of the brain where the bleeding occurred, damaging the nerve cells so that area of the brain can’t function. Only 11 – 14% of strokes are hemorrhagic strokes.

Strokes occur in different parts of the brain and brain stem. The brainstem is the part of the brain that connects with the top of the spinal chord. It acts as the conduit for all of the nerves that connect the brain with the spinal chord, and also the cerebellum (see below). It also contains special nerve cells that control facial and eye movement and sensation, hearing, smell, taste, swallowing, tongue movement, and the muscles of the neck.

The cerebellum is situated under the cerebrum (the main part of the brain), and behind the brainstem. Its major function is to control and co-ordinate movement. The human brain is divided into regions. Each region controls various movements, senses, or intellectual functions. If a stroke damages brain cells in one of these regions the different functions they control may be affected. The different types of strokes can cause similar damage.

The stroke’s location in the left or right half of the brain will determine what effects will arise. The left side of your brain controls the motor and sensory functions of the right side of your body so if you have a stroke on the left side of your brain it will affect the right side of your body. Any of the following effects may occur depending on which area of the left side of the brain has been damaged: paralysis or loss of strength in right side of body; loss of feeling in right side of body; loss of awareness to the right; loss of vision to the right; difficulty speaking; not understanding what others are saying; inability to read and/or write; thoughts tend to be disconnected; verbal memory loss; difficulty with performing purposeful movement (e.g. combing the hair); confusion between left and right; easily frustrated; slowness, clumsiness; overwhelming urges to perform or repeat some actions; difficulty structuring and planning behavior; poor motivation; difficulty dealing with numbers (arithmetic).

The right side of your brain controls the motor and sensory functions for the left side of the body. Any of the following effects may occur depending on which area of the right side of the brain has been damaged: paralysis or loss of power (strength) in left side of body; loss of feeling in left side of body; loss of awareness to the left; loss of vision to the left; excessive talking; slurred monotonous speech; swallowing or eating difficulty; difficulty recognizing familiar faces; difficulty seeing how things relate to each other in space; difficulty interpreting sounds; denying existence of problems; depression; tendency to sarcasm, or uncharacteristic and at times embarrassing behavior or comments; Short attention span; memory problems; poor judgment of physical abilities (especially safety awareness); muddled sense of time; difficulty with abstract thinking (e.g. comparing ideas, solving problems); mood swings; lack of interest, difficulty in ‘getting going’; acting without thinking; difficulty in recognizing someone else’s mood.

If the brainstem has suffered the attack, brainstem strokes can cause: double vision (because one eye cannot move synchronously with the other); loss of sensation in one eye, or the face, or tongue; a dilated pupil; slurred speech; loss of movement on one side of the face; problems with swallowing; abnormal jerky movements when trying to do something; loss of power, and/or sensation on one side.

When stroke occurs in the cerebellum, there can be: loss of balance, a person may “seem drunk”. They walk with the feet more widely apart, and weave or wobble. They are not drunk but alcohol will make this worse, as alcohol interferes with cerebellar function. Results can be monotonous speech; shaking limb, when the person tries to do something, for example drink a cup of tea. This is called ataxia. If the stroke is only affecting one side of the cerebellum then the abnormality will be on the same side as the stroke. Abnormal eye movement, the eyes have a quick/slow flicker as they move. This is called nystagmus. Some of these abnormalities may occur in brainstem or even cerebral strokes, because the nerve connections with the cerebellum have been damaged.

Recovery from stroke within mainstream medicine involves a team approach that can combine physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy when needed. The aim of physiotherapy is to assess and treat problems to do with movement and balance. The aim of occupational therapy is to help the person to regain competence in the activities of daily living. Speech language therapy aims to manage swallowing and or communication difficulties.

Why should Bowenwork help in rehabilitating from stroke? What is the point of rehabilitation but to correct the “disconnection” between the affected portion of the brain and the areas and activities it would normally control. In addition, rehabilitation is aimed at recovering the optimal function of the body whether in gaining strength, range-of-motion, stamina or fine motor skills including speech. This is precisely what Bowenwork is made for. A “match made in heaven”, so to speak, that facilitates the perfection of communication between the brain and the body. So not merely can the body regain capacity but the tissue injury can begin to recover as well, when the appropriate cerebral stimuli are provided by Bowenwork. Another benefit is improved sense of well being after sessions which can serve to counteract the feelings of frustration, anger, fatigue and depression that can stall recovery. In fact, stroke may be one of the greatest opportunities for Bowenwork to help demonstrate the miraculous healing capacity of enhanced brain-body connection.

For More Information about Bowenwork or to schedule an appointment, please contact:
Scott Wurtz, LMP, PBP
206.524.5511

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