In a small study of 49 stroke survivors, researchers examined the relationship between optimism, inflammation, stroke severity and physical disability for three months after a stroke.
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.
Optimism has been associated with lower inflammation levels and improved health outcomes among people with medical conditions, however, no prior studies 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.