Art of Aging: Help for stroke victims

Stroke is the number one cause of disability in America.

Doctors have several tools which can reduce, or even stop, the damage if delivered in time. And now, new guidelines have widened the window for using them.

Lynne Brown wasn't even a year into retirement when a stroke hit, while she worked in her front yard.

"I was falling on my right side, and I kept telling myself - Lynne stop falling. That was all I remember," she said.

Lynne was rushed to the hospital, where tests showed a blood clot on the left side of her brain.

A clot-busting drug called TPA used to be the gold-standard for treating strokes.

But now, neurosurgeon Michelle Smith of Main Line Health says there's also mechanical thrombectomy.

"Under x-ray guidance, we're able to thread a long, thin tube called a catheter all the way up into the blood vessels of the brain that have the blood clot in it," said Dr. Smith.

Then a device removes the clot. Putting it into plumbing terms, "If you have a big clot in there, your Drano's not going to necessarily break that up - you might need a Roto-Rooter to get it out," said Dr. Smith.

There was a 6-hour window for a thrombectomy.

However, numerous studies show that for clots in big vessels, it can work up to 24 hours after symptoms start.

Dr. Smith added, "When I see them in the E.R., they're severely disabled, and we perform this treatment, and some of those patients literally reverse their symptoms on the table."

Lynne has experienced thrombectomy twice!

Just 3 months after her first stroke, lightning struck again - during therapy at Bryn Mawr Rehab.

"I told them that I felt my leg was extra-heavy, and my arm wasn't working right," said Lynne.

With swift treatment and aggressive therapy, Lynne's getting close to her old self.

She's still got one challenge she's determined to beat, "Drying my hair, which is really important to me, making this right hand roll that brush is very difficult," Lynne said.

But she's not giving up.

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