National Stroke Awareness Month

May is National Stroke Awareness Month

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When it comes to having a stroke, every second counts- so we must act F.A.S.T.

The following are symptoms that may be a sign of a stroke:

F: Facial Droop- Does one side of the face droop or feel numb? The best way to assess this is to ask the person to smile and look for any asymmetry.

A: Arm Weakness-  Does one arm feel weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms to see if there is a difference in range of motion.

S: Speech- Is the person able to speak clearly or has slurred speech? Assess this by asking the person to repeat a simple sentence such as “The dog is sleeping”.

T: Time to call 9-1-1- If the person shows any of these symptoms and even if the symptoms go away- please call 9-1-1 and let them know that the patient has shown signs of a stroke.

What is a Stroke?

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries that supply blood to the brain. When a blood vessel that supplies the brain becomes blocked due to a clot or rupture, this causes a stroke to happen. The brain is unable to receive oxygen and nutrients, which causes the brain cells to die. When the blood flow cannot reach a part of the brain that controls certain functions like speech or movement, that part of the body will be affected and not work as it should.

Why Time is of the Essence?

Immediate treatment can help reduce serious and long term effects of a stroke including death. Certain medications and procedures (most commonly- IV Alteplase or r-TPA) work to break up any clotting and improve blood flow to the brain. This needs to be administered as soon as possible after a stroke in order to be highly effective. If tPA is administered within three hours, it significantly increases the chances of recovery.

How Can We Prevent a Stroke

80% of strokes are Preventable! The following are ways to help reduce the risk of having a stroke:

  • Eating Healthy/Low Salt Diet

  • Reducing Blood Pressure

  • Quit Smoking

  • Active Lifestyle

  • Losing Weight

  • Taking Medication as Prescribed

What Can Help Your Recovery Post Stroke?

If you do have a stroke, there will be a team of health care professionals that will assist you throughout your recovery process. Rehabilitation will play a key role in improving your level of function, independence, and quality of life as you may work with speech, occupational, and physical therapists. In physical therapy, you and your therapist will set specific goals and create a plan to help  you regain your independence. The physical therapist will work with you on different tasks including transfers (i.e. getting out of bed safely), strengthening and flexibility, balance related activities, and improving your mobility and ability to walk.