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April 22/29, 1998

Stroke Treatment: Promising but Still Struggling

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 1998;279(16):1304-1306. doi:10.1001/jama.279.16.1304

Just 2 scant decades ago, the stroke exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Ill, featured wheelchairs, braces, and various other devices that aided mobilization of patients with paralysis after strokes. While these aids help improve function for those with residual impairment, prevention and treatment were not addressed. Not surprisingly, stroke was then and remains today the single disease that older individuals most fear. No one wants to spend their crowning years dependent on others and with impaired mental and physical faculties. Even so, during the first three quarters of the 20th century, stroke was a disorder of little medical interest. Most physicians thought there was little that could be done to prevent stroke or treat patients with stroke. Few physicians were interested in stroke. Therapeutic nihilism prevailed.