Recovering from a Brain Aneurysm
A brain aneurysm is a potentially life-threatening condition. Recovery can be a long and challenging road. Patients and caregivers need to know that recovery depends on many factors. This includes whether the aneurysm bled and the type of treatment procedure. Recovery involves physical, emotional and mental challenges. Here are some things to know about recovering from a brain aneurysm.
Recovery from an Unruptured Brain Aneurysm
Recovery from an unruptured brain aneurysm largely depends on the treatment procedure. In general, recovery from the less invasive endovascular procedure is quicker than open surgery.
The endovascular option is a catheter procedure. For people who qualify for this procedure, recovery is usually a matter of days. Most people stay overnight in an intensive care unit (ICU) and go home the following day. After an endovascular procedure, doctors need to monitor people with angiography at regular intervals.
Open surgery with a craniotomy involves a longer recovery because the surgeon creates an opening through the skull. Hospital stays can last a few days and complete recovery can take several weeks. Unlike the endovascular procedure, routine follow-up with angiography is not necessary. However, there is a 15 to 20% chance of developing a new aneurysm in the future. As a result, doctors may still recommend monitoring for new aneurysms.
Recovery After a Ruptured Brain Aneurysm
Emergency surgery is necessary when a brain aneurysm ruptures. Recovery is generally longer and more complex. Damage to brain tissue is more likely in this situation. The amount of damage depends on the extent of bleeding. The amount of damage also affects recovery. Hospitals stays can be long and include extended time in an ICU.
Recovery from a brain aneurysm often requires rehabilitation. This can include physical, occupational, cognitive, speech, and swallowing therapy. This usually starts in the hospital and continues on an outpatient basis. Other resources to use during rehabilitation are patient and caregiver support groups and web communities.
The Importance of Caregivers
Caregivers are a vital part of the rehabilitation team. Their strength, compassion and support will help patients maintain hope. And hope can give brain aneurysm survivors a better chance at recovery.
Caregivers need to have a good understanding of the physical and behavioral changes that can occur with brain aneurysms. Their loved ones may not act like themselves or be able to function normally. Knowing that tissue damage from the ruptured aneurysm is causing these issues can help caregivers deal with the changes during rehabilitation.
Brain Aneurysm Recovery Challenges
Recovery from a brain aneurysm involves physical, mental and emotional challenges. The extent of these issues depends on the degree of bleeding when an aneurysm bursts. After treatment for an unruptured brain aneurysm, people tend to return to normal activities within days without many problems.
Physical issues can include trouble with balance and coordination, weakness, fatigue, vision problems, and problems speaking or swallowing. Mental and emotional issues can lead to behavior changes that are upsetting to families and caregivers. Patients may have problems with memory and thinking. They may also experience mood changes, anger, and depression.
All of these issues may improve and even resolve during the course of recovery. The brain has an amazing ability to heal and relearn. But it needs time. Be aware that recovery can take weeks, months, or even years.