Stroke Treatment Options


Many times, a stroke can be treated with the drug tPA. This particular drug works by dissolving a “hole” in the clot causing the stroke, allowing blood to flow through the blockage and decrease the amount of damage to the brain. Oftentimes, tPA can reverse the effects and complications of a stroke.

The critical factor to tPA is that it must be administered within three hours after a stroke occurs. That’s why it’s so important for people to seek immediate medical care as soon as possible, preferably at a hospital that has Primary Stroke Certification such as Columbia St. Mary’s.

Endovascular Therapy

Endovascular therapy is a minimally invasive procedure that clears the blocked artery causing stroke. The procedure is only for carefully selected patients and involves passing small tubes (catheters) through the blood vessel into the neck or head. This procedure is performed by a specialist. Sometimes, endovascular therapy also involves the use of drugs like tPA or the use of other devices to help open up the blocked blood vessels.


In cases where tPA cannot be used, a narrowed area or blockage may be treated with angioplasty or with the placement of a stent.

Stenting can also be an important preventive procedure for individuals who have significant blockage in an artery. Additionally, patients who have had a first stroke might receive a stent to reduce the risk of a second stroke.

Surgical Intervention

A neurosurgeon may intervene when a stroke has resulted from an aneurysm, a weakened area in a blood vessel wall. Surgery is generally required to remove these abnormalities.

Though rare, a patient may require a surgical bypass (similar in principle to a heart bypass) when a blockage prevents blood from reaching part of the brain.

Stroke Rehabilitation

While many people will survive a stroke, they are often left with significantly compromised skills for daily living. Columbia St. Mary’s provides intense stroke rehabilitation services, including Sacred Heart Rehabilitation Institute at Columbia St. Mary’s Hospital Milwaukee. Individualized therapy for stroke rehabilitation brings together many different specialists: physical and occupational therapists, speech and language pathologists, recreational and music therapists, animal-assisted therapy, case managers, and social workers.

Rehabilitation focuses on improving physical strength, conditioning, self-care, memory and thinking skills, walking, overall movement, and communication.

For more information, call our program coordinator at 414-585-1218.



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