You may not think that physical therapists have anything to do with brain aneurysms. But physical therapy forms the foundation of your recovery after your aneurysm is treated.
As specialists in neurological physical therapy, the team at Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine works closely with people when an aneurysm causes coordination problems, muscle weakness, and other neurological challenges. We help you regain strength and restore movement so you can enjoy an active, full life.
About brain aneurysms
Aneurysms begin when a small, weak area in an artery wall starts to enlarge. You can have an aneurysm in any artery. When one appears in your brain, it’s called a cerebral aneurysm or brain aneurysm.
Brain aneurysms start out small and get larger over the years as blood flowing through the artery pushes into the area and makes it bulge out. The process is like blowing up a balloon but instead of air, an aneurysm gets bigger as it fills with blood.
You can have a small aneurysm for decades and never have a clue that it exists. Symptoms don’t appear until the aneurysm gets large enough to press against your brain or ruptures.
As an aneurysm grows, the artery wall keeps getting thinner. Eventually, it can break open (rupture) and bleed into your brain.
Signs of an unruptured brain aneurysm
If your unruptured aneurysm causes symptoms, you will experience neurological problems such as:
- Dilated pupils
- Drooping eyelid
- Double vision
- Pain above or around one eye
- Weakness on one side of your face
- Numbness on one side of your face
Headaches are the most common sign of a brain aneurysm. Once symptoms appear, nearly one-third of all patients keep having persistent or chronic problems.
If you notice any of these symptoms, you should schedule an exam with your primary care doctor or a neurologist. Your insurance company may require you to have your symptoms evaluated by your primary care doctor first. If they determine your symptoms might be signs of an aneurysm, they refer you to a neurologist.
Signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm
A ruptured brain aneurysm is a medical emergency. The sudden bleeding can cause a stroke. Without rapid treatment, a bleeding aneurysm is often deadly.
These are the signs of a ruptured brain aneurysm:
- Sudden, severe headache
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stiff neck
- Double or blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Loss of consciousness
- Rapid heart rate
You may have one or more of the symptoms on this list, but one thing is certain: A ruptured brain aneurysm always causes an extremely severe headache.
Treatment for a brain aneurysm
A small aneurysm that doesn’t cause symptoms may not need treatment. Your provider may schedule regular brain imaging to monitor the aneurysm and recommend treatment when it reaches a certain size.
When it’s time to treat a brain aneurysm, there are two possible options, minimally invasive and open surgery. A minimally invasive approach involves inserting a catheter into the artery. Then your provider can seal the aneurysm or insert a stent to stop blood from flowing into the bulge.
Open surgery poses a higher risk of complications, but it may be the best option depending on the size and location of the aneurysm. During open surgery, your provider clips off the aneurysm.
Recovery from a brain aneurysm
Any time your brain suffers trauma, whether by pressure or bleeding from the aneurysm or during surgery, you can develop side effects. Many people experience:
- Behavior changes
- Memory problems
- Loss of balance
- Poor coordination
- Muscle weakness
Starting a customized physical therapy program is the best way to overcome these neurological problems. We offer complete care, from a comprehensive evaluation to a treatment plan that focuses on your unique challenges.
We draw from many therapies that retrain your brain and teach your body how to move. You may need gait training, balance training, or exercises to improve motor control or cardiovascular endurance, to give you just a few examples. We also offer vestibular evaluations and treatment for balance problems.
If you have questions about rehabilitating from a brain aneurysm or would like to start physical therapy, you can contact Prolete Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine any time, with or without a doctor’s referral. Call or book an appointment online today.