Researchers have found that stroke survivors with high levels of optimism had lower inflammation levels, reduced stroke severity and less physical disability after three months, compared to those who are less optimistic.
“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 senior author Yun-Ju Lai from University of Texas in the US.
In a small study of 49 stroke survivors, researchers examined the relationship among optimism, inflammation, stroke severity and physical disability for three months after an attack.
Researchers said that understanding how these elements relate to, or impact one another, may provide a scientific framework to develop new strategies for stroke recovery.
Post-stroke inflammation is detrimental to the brain and impairs recovery, the researchers said.
Optimism has been associated with lower inflammation levels and improved health outcomes among people with medical conditions. However, no prior studies have assessed if this association exists among stroke patients.
This pilot study is a secondary analysis of data collected from a repository of neurological diseases.
Outcomes included optimism levels from the revised Life Orientation Test, a standard psychological tool for measuring optimism; stroke severity evaluation through the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, and levels of inflammatory markers–interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFa) and C-reactive protein (CRP).
As optimism levels increased, stroke severity and the inflammatory markers IL-6 and CRP decreased even after considering other possible variables. However, this was not true of TNFa.
“Patients and their families should know the importance of a positive environment that could benefit the patient, mental health does affect recovery after a stroke,” Lai said.
The study is scheduled to be presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference slated from February 18 to 21 in the US. (IANS)