February 9, 2009 is a date that Juan Plaza Zuniga will never forget. It was a day like any other, when suddenly he began to feel ill and went to a hospital here in the city of Mexico. The diagnosis: cerebral infarction, more commonly known as a stroke. In a moment, Juan’s life, at 45 years old, was completely changed as a result of its high levels of cholesterol, triglycerides, and fat in the arteries, and stress.
According to Hilda Master Patricia Velasquez, Coordinator of Clinical Rotations at Universidad del Valle de México Campus Chapultepec, approximately 30 people of every 100,000 of the population in the Federal District are impacted by strokes. They have caused 30,000 deaths in the last 5 years, making strokes the third leading cause of death in women and the fourth in men. "In fact, patients who make it through a cerebral infarction are called "survivors", " said the UVM faculty member.
Strokes occur to a greater extent to those people between 55 and 75 years of age and impact men more than women. A stroke is caused by a lack of oxygen in one or more of the arteries that supply the brain, causing brain death and, depending on the lobes affected, flaccidity or spasticity, paralysis or weakness on one side of the body, sensitivity problems, problems walking, lack of coordination, difficulties with mood, loss of body schema and / or difficulty speaking.
Mr. Juan Plaza is a "survivor". "For a long time I thought my life was over. When I arrived at the UVM Clinic in 2011, I used a wheelchair. Now, thanks to the therapies from the young students and teachers, I can now walk with the use of a cane. I can travel on the metro and on public transport. The healing progress has been amazing," he said.
Hilda Patricia Velasquez, who has helped Juan Plaza Zuniga, confirmed when he came to the UVM clinic that he needed the wheelchair because he could not stand without holding onto some object. The therapy that Mr. Juan Plaza received at UVM Campus Chapultepec has reactivated some of his neurons and he is learning to coordinate movements of the hand, feet, eyes and mouth. "This is a high quality clinic,” Juan said. “When I come to therapy, I meet many people from various social strata and the care we all receive is the same without distinction. People come very hurt, sad, some have even tried to kill themselves, but the therapists here are very loving, very human, and treat us like we were their family, is a great service," he said.
Today, the UVM Campus Chapultepec Clinic serves 21 patients in conditions similar to Juan Plaza. Individualized therapy is offered based on their needs. Recovery techniques include neurodevelopmental (exercises to regain normal development of movement in different positions), specialized to recover as much as possible "normal" movement, stretching, strengthening, coordination, gait training exercises; occupational therapy treatment to regain sensitivity, balance, proprioception (deep sensitivity) and, although it is not their field of expertise they also work a little on language.
Professor Hilda Patricia Velasquez said there are many factors to consider for a patient to rehabilitate from a stroke, such as age, previous activity levels, the location of the injury, how many brain lobes were damaged, and the time that passed between the stroke and receiving treatment. "The evidence has shown that the earlier the treatment begins, the better results are obtained. We have even had some patients get completely healed," she said.
This article has been translated into English to be shared on the Laureate International Universities website.