Be Stroke-Aware in May, and All Year LongKnowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke is always important, but since May is Stroke Awareness Month, it seems like a good time for a reminder. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off, resulting in lack of oxygen and other nutrients. Some areas of the brain can die, which results in loss of function.

How do you know if someone is having a stroke? Look for:

  • Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
  • Difficulty talking or understanding other people talk
  • Numbness on one side of the body
  • Difficulty with balance or coordination
  • Difficulty with mobility
  • Difficulty with vision
  • Confusion

If you think someone is having a stroke, dial 911 immediately.

According to the National Stroke Association:

  • Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, and over 133,000 Americans die each year from stroke
  • Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability
  • There are about 7 million stroke survivors in the United States over age 20
  • A stroke occurs approximately every 40 seconds
  • Stroke can happen to anyone
  • About 55,000 more women than men have a stroke each year
  • African Americans have almost twice the risk of first-time stroke than whites

What happens after a stroke?

Stroke rehabilitation should start as soon as possible. Rehabilitation can begin once the patient’s condition is stable and doctors have taken precautions against further strokes and complications. The sooner you start stroke rehab, the more likely lost abilities and skills can be re-gained. Stroke rehab has shown benefits for patients regardless of when they begin, so rehab should always be pursued when possible. Depending on the severity of the stroke and the general health of the patient, including other medical conditions from which they suffer, rehabilitation can take place in several different settings, including a nursing and rehabilitation center or skilled nursing facility, or an inpatient rehabilitation hospital. The stroke rehab team is made of up the patient, his or her family, doctors, therapists and other health professionals. This includes:

  • Physical therapists, who work on problems with movement, balance and coordination
  • Occupational therapists, who help patients practice eating, bathing, dressing, writing and performing other daily tasks
  • Speech-language pathologists, who help with re-learning language skills and also help with swallowing problems
  • Orthotic/adaptive equipment specialists
  • Nutritional counselors
  • Social workers, to help with the transition from the rehab center to home

For many stroke patients, life changes in an instant. But this does not mean life can’t be good again with the right support, recovery and rehabilitation. Watch as Dick shares his story of recovery after suffering multiple strokes and an amputation:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x8OtAuJRe0M

For more information about the different types of stroke, statistics about stroke, and information about resources and recovery, visit the American Stroke Association Web site at www.stroke.org

Click here to find a Kindred facility near you offering stroke rehabilitation services.