Stroke Recovery and High Blood Pressure – Quick Care Matters


Not everyone knows the symptoms of a stroke. Fortunately, Carson City resident Sean Olsen quickly realized he was having one. As a result, he sought immediate help from a friend. This led to his timely diagnosis and an exceptional stroke recovery.

“My speech was being slurred and I could tell that that something was wrong,” remembers 46 year-old Sean Olsen. He recognized his speech difficulty as one of the main signs of a stroke. Consequently, he asked a co-worker to drive him to the nearest hospital right away.

Timely Stroke Care

Above all, time is of the essence when you are experiencing stroke symptoms. Valerie Brooke, MD, Stroke Program Director at Renown Rehabilitation Hospital commends Olsen for his quick action. “So they did the right thing going to the closest hospital.” She clarifies Olsen’s situation needed an elevated level of care, “As soon as you find a hemorrhagic stroke you actually need to go to a center that has a neurosurgeon.”

“His blood pressure was so high they told us he needs to be up at Renown,” confirms Tara Olsen, Sean’s wife.

Hemorrhagic Stroke Care

A hemorrhagic stroke is when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or is leaking. Hence this excess blood creates swelling and pressure into, or around the brain. For this reason, precious brain cells are damaged every second. This type of stroke is less common than an ischemic stroke (caused by a narrowed or blocked artery), but is responsible for more stroke deaths.

“The blood builds up in the brain and there’s a potential that you could need brain surgery,” adds Dr. Brooke. “Not that he had a tumor or an aneurysm, his hemorrhagic stroke was caused from high blood pressure.”

RELATED:  Changes to High Blood Pressure Guidelines

Because of the seriousness of his stroke case, neurosurgeons were immediately consulted and Olsen was transported by Care Flight to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, a Joint Commission Certified Comprehensive Stroke Center.

The Stroke Recovery Progress Begins

After spending time in the Intensive Care Unit, then the neurology floor, the care team suggested stroke rehabilitation at Renown Rehabilitation Hospital.

“When I arrived I couldn’t walk ….and I could not talk yet,” recalls Olsen.

And due to the complicated nature of stroke, no one is able to accurately predict stroke recovery outcomes. “In looking at Sean’s imaging and seeing the size of his stroke and the location, he actually had a very good functional outcome,” observes Dr. Brooke.

Hope for the Future

Olsen describes the rehab process as, “Humbling, but I’m looking forward to getting back to life.”

Observing her husband’s care team, his wife remarks, “We’ve been here three and a half weeks and everybody’s so kind to us. We’ve gotten to know everybody and the care is amazing. This place is an amazing place.”

Smiling, she adds, “I just know in my heart he’s gonna be back to normal soon.”

With the region’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center and CARF Accredited Stroke Rehabiliatation Program, Renown Health combines lifesaving stroke care with leading edge stroke rehabilitation.

Renown Rehabilitation Hospital | 775-982-3500

Renown Rehabilitation Hospital is owned and operated by Renown South Meadows Medical Center. It is the region’s only hospital with certification by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). It is certified for:

  • Comprehensive Integrated Inpatient Rehabilitation Program
  • Stroke Specialty Program
  • Medical Rehabilitation Case Management

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