|After a Stroke: The Expanding Role of Exercise in Promoting Recovery|
Her puzzlement gave way to panic when she reached her car and looked in the mirror. The left side of her face had collapsed. By the time she reached home, her left arm had gone numb. Soon she was dragging her left leg.
It was March 15, 2010, the day before her 45th birthday. This couldn’t be happening, she thought. She was too young and much too fit. “I still kept thinking, ‘I’m not having a stroke,’ ” she recalled.
She was wrong. At the hospital, emergency room physicians cleared the clot from her brain, but the damage had been done. When Brott was left with little strength on her left side despite physical therapy, she faced a long, difficult future in a body compromised by a disease of the elderly — until she decided to take control of her own recovery by returning to the gym.
Researchers are learning that exercise can help younger stroke victims such as Brott regain function, even years after they are stricken. A widely cited 2011 study provides support for therapeutic approaches like the one Brott stumbled upon when she returned to the gym.