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Optimism linked to lower stroke severity and less inflammation

Consumers who have experienced a stroke can improve recovery by changing their outlook

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Suffering from a stroke can leave consumers in a fragile physical state long after the initial experience is over. Weakness, numbness, and fatigue are just a few common post-stroke symptoms, but researchers say that a positive outlook can help improve outcomes and encourage a quicker recovery.

A team presenting a study at the Nursing Symposium of the American Stroke Association says that high levels of optimism after a stroke can help reduce inflammation, as well as stroke severity and physical disability.

"Our results suggest that optimistic people have a better disease outcome, thus boosting morale may be an ideal way to improve mental health and recovery after a stroke," said study first author Dr. Yun-Ju Lai.

Mental health and recovery

The researchers based their study on an analysis of data taken from a collection of cases linked to neurological diseases. In one of the psychological tests given to patients, doctors found that those who were more optimistic following a stroke had much lower levels of certain inflammatory markers within their bodies.

Inflammation is perhaps one of the biggest factors affecting recovery in stroke patients. High levels of it can negatively affect the brain and impede the body from healing itself. The researchers say that their findings support the notion that mental health can be a target for health care professionals who want to improve patient outcomes.

"Patients and their families should know the importance of a positive environment that could benefit the patient," Lai said. "Mental health does affect recovery after a stroke."

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