Harvard Women's Health Watch

Recovering from a stroke

After a stroke, the brain regains some function on its own, but recovery requires early and ongoing rehabilitation.

Every year in the United States, 250,000 women survive a stroke — the sudden interruption of blood supply to part of the brain, which results in the death of brain cells. Rapid diagnosis and brain-sparing treatments — such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an enzyme that dissolves blood clots, or other clot-clearing procedures — can help limit the damage and resulting disability. But the cells that do die can rob a woman of her ability to speak, move, feel, think, or even recognize friends and relatives. About two-thirds of stroke survivors must work to regain abilities — or learn to compensate for the ones they can't regain, by developing new strengths and strategies.

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