Stroke that affects the arteries within and leading to the brain is one of the deadliest diseases in the world.  In the USA, it’s the leading cause of disability and the fifth cause of death.

When does stroke occurs? It does when an artery transporting oxygen and nutrients to one’s brain is blocked by a blood clot or is ruptured.

Stroke Statistics

  • In the US, more than 140,000 people die from it annually. It is also the leading cause of long-term or serious disability.
  • Annually, about 795,000 people suffer from stroke, with 185,000 suffering from recurrent strokes and about 600,000 from first attacks.
  • About ¼ of sufferers are those under 65 years of age.
  • Someone in the US is having a stroke every 40 seconds.
  • The most important risk factor for stroke is high blood pressure.

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Signs of Stroke

Check out the following for the signs and symptoms of stroke so that you can act immediately or save someone’s life aside from your own.

  • Trouble speaking, sudden confusion and trouble understanding speech
  • Trouble seeing in both or one eye
  • Sudden severe headache with an unknown cause
  • Dizziness, lack of coordination, loss of balance and sudden trouble walking
  • Weakness or numbness in the face, leg or arm, especially on one side of the body

Types of Stroke

There are certain types of strokes, each with a particular treatment approach, which depends on several factors, including how long it lasted and type of stroke it was.  The sooner the treatment the better and sooner recovery the patient will have. Learn more in the following.

Ischemic Stroke (Clots): It occurs when a blood vessel that supplies nutrients and oxygen to the brain is blocked. This type accounts for 87% of strokes.

The main treatment approach to this type is on restoring enough blood flow to the brain. However, treatments may vary according to how quickly the patient can get to a hospital or his/her medical history.  

The doctor may recommend a tissue plasminogen activator if he/she seeks treatment within the first three hours of the attack.  It works by dissolving the clot.

On the other hand, the doctor may also use procedures to deliver clot-busting medications to the brain or manually remove the clot.

Hemorrhagic Stroke (Bleeds): This stroke happens when a weakened blood vessel ruptures. Its most common cause is an uncontrolled high blood pressure.  For the two types of weakened blood vessels causing it are arteriovenous malformations and aneurysms.

The focus of treatment is on regulating the bleeding and reducing brain pressure.   

It main purpose is to stop brain bleeding and reduce its side effects that include an increased cranial pressure.  

On the other hand, some surgeries can also involve coiling and clipping, which aims at preventing the blood vessel from further bleeding.

TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack): This stroke, which is a serious temporary clot, is also called a mini stroke or a warning stroke that must be taken seriously.  

The treatment for this stroke includes taking medications to prevent recurrent attacks. A few examples include anticoagulants to reduce the building up of clotting proteins, and antiplatelets to reduce the clotting of the platelets.

A medical healthcare provider may also recommend a carotid endarterectomy to remove any plaque building up in the neck’s carotid artery, a major cause of stroke.

How to Help Stroke Survivors Recover

Stroke needs rehabilitation after the main treatment.  Staying in a rehab will help survivors relearn important skills lost during the attack to the brain. A few of these skills include coordination the leg movements that the patient can walk or perform the needed steps in doing an activity.

Rehabilitation will also teach a stroke survivor how to perform tasks in order to compensate or circumvent any remaining mobility issues or residual disabilities.

The process of rehabilitating a patient for recovery can be done at home or in a special rehabilitation center that have the medical supplies and equipment needed to make the rehab program successful and the recovery faster and easier. A few things included in the recovery are,

Physical therapy: As the patient can have serious problems with coordination and movement, the rehab program includes physical therapy. A physical therapist that specializes in neurological trauma and stroke will help patients relearn complex movements.

One will also teach ways on how to prevent complications that would otherwise slow down their recovery progress. Finally, the PT will also help improve their coordination and balance, along with other skills for quality of life improvement.

Speech therapy: Stroke sufferers can have speech issues especially when some of their facial muscles are deformed during the attack.

Due to such deformations, speech becomes unclear. That is why getting speech therapy after stroke is also a necessary component of the recovery process.  

A speech-language pathologist can help in assessing, diagnosing and treating disorders regarding language, speech, voice, cognitive communication, swallowing ability and voice, among other related issues.  

The therapy’s main goal is to help a patient restore the highest communication and language function as possible.  With help from an SLP, speech issues along with swallowing or voice issues can be addressed.

Final Thoughts

Stroke survivors can have a faster recovery with help from the pros, such as a physical therapist and speech therapists. With them, patients can get a meaningful care that will lead to their easier recovery and return to normal function.