Experiencing a stroke is one of the most terrifying things that a person can go through. A stroke can come out of nowhere and literally endanger the sufferer’s life, and is certainly not something to take lightly.
That’s why so many people need to be able to recognize warning signs that they need to look out for and how to help as best they can in the moment, as well as what recovery can look like for someone who has experienced a stroke.
Here are the things everyone should know about stroke symptoms, and stroke recovery.
What is a stroke?
A stroke can occur when blood flow is reduced or interrupted in a vital part of the body for a period of time, the most classic case occurring in the brain as either a hemorrhagic (when a blood vessel ruptures) or ischemic (when a blood vessel is blocked by a clot) stroke.
When a part of the body experiences lack of blood circulation, tissues are unable to get the oxygen that they require to function. Brain cells can begin to die within minutes of the blood flow interruption, which is why a stroke is the kind of medical emergency that must be addressed immediately, often emergently. In order to respond to this kind of emergency right away, it is necessary for people to know what the symptoms of a stroke are, so they will recognize when someone is experiencing a stroke, and what they need to do about it.
Signs of a stroke
There are numerous symptoms that an individual may experience when experiencing a stroke, and no two people may present exactly alike. That said, there are some symptoms that are quite common in most of not all stroke cases, and it is vitally important to recognize what may be happening if you, a loved one or even a nearby stranger begins to exhibit one or more of them.
- Numbness in the body: The sudden onset of numbness in the body, particularly if it is experienced specifically on just one side of the body, can be a frightening sensation and certainly a potential sign of a stroke. Some people report or exhibit numbness in their arms, legs, or face right at the onset of a stroke.
- Confusion: Sudden confusion and/or difficulty speaking or performing normal bodily movement or function may indicate the occurrence of a stroke.
- Slurred Speech: If someone exhibits the onset of slurred or indecipherable speech, particularly if they haven’t been drinking alcohol heavily, they need medical attention immediately. Slurred or nonsense speech, or the sudden inability to speak at all, is an established symptom of having a stroke, especially when combined with other symptoms, such as the drooping of one side of the face.
What to do in case of a stroke
Witnessing symptoms like the ones above arise out of nowhere can be jarring for the people around someone who is undergoing a stroke. When former Congressman Ron Paul suffered a stroke live on a YouTube stream, the hosts of the show were understandably stunned. Fortunately, there were people available to help the former politician, but it served as a great lesson about stroke preparedness and doing everything that we can to help those suffering in this situation.
- Call 911 immediately: Seconds really do count to a person suffering a stroke — the longer a sufferer’s brain or other body tissue is starved of oxygen, the more (possibly irreversible) damage will be done. Do not under any circumstances let someone exhibiting signs of a stroke talk you out of seeking medical attention by saying they’re “just tired” or “just need to sit down” or “can’t afford it.” Make the call.
- Note the time: Medical professionals will want to know when the person began to exhibit symptoms of a stroke. Some types of treatment depend on how long the patient has been experiencing a stroke.
- Keep the person awake: Some stroke survivors have reported feeling sleepy during the onset of a stroke. It’s critical that someone suffering a stroke be treated as soon as possible, and first responders who arrive on the scene will need to evaluate the person.
- Do not give the person food, liquids or medication: Even an over-the-counter analgesic like aspirin can do a stroke sufferer more harm than good, particularly in the case of hemorrhagic stroke. And a stroke can often affect a person’s ability to swallow, so offering food, water or any other liquids is never a good idea.
- Perform CPR if necessary: Most individuals who suffer a stroke don’t require CPR, but if they are discovered unconscious (or lose consciousness while waiting for medical personnel), you should perform CPR. If you don’t know how, the 911 dispatcher can talk you through it. (But you should learn CPR!)
Patients need emergency medical care as soon as they begin to experience a stroke. However, the lengthier part of their recovery will come as they go through the rehabilitation process. Therefore, it is vital that patients know about the various forms of stroke rehab and the specialists that they will see as part of this important process.
Eighty to 90 percent of those who suffer a stroke survive the experience. Stroke survivors will work with physicians, like the experienced professionals at Brooks Rehabilitation, as they are going through their post-stroke rehabilitation process. Physicians are the primary healthcare worker responsible for helping patients get back to the life that they had before their stroke. Their job is extraordinarily challenging at times, as they are responsible for so much of the recovery process, but they know how to provide the patient with precisely the information and treatment they need to get down the path to recovery.
Rehabilitation nurses are a type of specialist that many stroke patients will meet. These nurses are specially trained to help patients relearn some of the fine motor skills that they need in order to recover from their stroke, and start to live normally once again. They know that many patients will be frustrated by their potential loss of certain abilities when they are first in recovery, but these nurses help work with those patients to make sure they receive the care and attention they need to get back on their feet — literally, in some cases.
Many people lose at least some of their ability to speak when they first begin to recover from a stroke. This is why a speech-language pathologist is very likely to help a patient who has struggled with this specific issue regain the ability to speak once again. It is incredibly important to have the ability to regain one’s speech, and this is something that a stroke can take away from a person, at least temporarily.
Types of treatment
Stroke patients need to go through various types of treatment to help get back to a point where they are able to function as normally as possible. Some of these treatments include:
This is a basic form of training for the body to start to build back muscles that may have suffered from the stroke. Typically, someone going through gait training will walk on a treadmill as part of their therapy. They may also perform a handful of other muscle strengthening exercises in order to try to get themselves as close to normal as they possibly can. This is all done under the guidance and supervision of a trained medical professional.
Loss of balance is a typical post-stroke issue, which is why medical professionals recommend that some stroke patients get into therapeutic protocols that can help them regain their sense of balance. It takes some time to get used to balancing yourself once again, but it is possible if one commits to one’s recovery.
Stroke recovery with Brooks Rehabilitation
You don’t want to trust your health with just anyone, and this is particularly true after experiencing a stroke. If you or a loved one has experienced a stroke, and are in need of the best rehabilitation in order to achieve optimum recovery, there is no better option than Brooks Rehabilitation.
With Brooks Rehabilitation you get:
- Trained specialists whose specific job is to assist stroke patients with the help that they need to get back on their feet and healthy again
- The technology and equipment necessary to help people best experience the various rehabilitative exercise routines that they need
- Caring professionals who know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to caring for stroke patients
Contact Brooks Rehabilitation today to schedule a consultation about your post-stroke recovery, or to learn more about our various physical therapy and rehabilitative services.