May is National Stroke Awareness Month and The Compliance Store joins the nation in recognizing this serious condition and the importance of stroke rehabilitation and the part it plays in helping residents that have suffered a stroke recover and live fuller lives. Stroke is one of the most life-threatening medical emergencies in the United States. Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. Stroke is a leading killer of Americans, causing a death every 3.5 minutes according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. Blood brings oxygen and nutrients to the brain cells. If blood can’t flow to a part of the brain, cells that do not receive enough oxygen suffer and eventually die. If brain cells are without oxygen for only a short time, they can sometimes recover. However, brain cells that die can never recover. There are two major types of stroke. The most common kind, ischemic, is caused by a blood clot or the narrowing of a blood vessel leading to the brain. According to the National Institute on Aging, there are three common causes of ischemic strokes:
- The formation of a clot within a blood vessel of the brain or neck, called thrombosis
- The movement of a clot from another part of the body, such as from the heart to the neck or brain, called an embolism
- Severe narrowing of an artery (stenosis) in or leading to the brain, due to fatty deposits lining the blood vessel walls
Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a broken blood vessel, which leads to bleeding in the brain. The break in the blood vessel interrupts the flow of blood, causing oxygen and nutrients to not reach brain cells. A third type of stroke is transient ischemic attack or TIA. Commonly known as a mini-stroke, the symptoms occur over a short period and may go away afterward. However, if untreated, TIA can be followed by a more serious stroke.
Common stroke symptoms, include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg—especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding conversation
- Sudden problems seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination and/or trouble walking
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
- Double vision
- Nausea or vomiting
A devastating condition, stroke can cause brain cells to be damaged or die within a matter of minutes. As a result, those who do survive a stroke often face cognitive and physical challenges that could last for years. Many adults who experience a stroke will need short-term stroke rehabilitation or long-term care.
For most patients, stroke rehabilitation mainly involves physical therapy. Physical therapy aims to have the stroke patient relearn simple motor activities such as walking, sitting, standing, lying down and the process of switching from one type of movement to another.
Another type of therapy to help them to relearn daily activities is occupational therapy. This type of therapy also involves exercise and training. Its goal is to help teach everyday activities such as eating, drinking and swallowing, using the toilet, dressing, bathing, reading and writing.
Speech therapy reteaches language and speaking skills, or other forms of communication. Speech therapy is appropriate for patients who have no problems with cognition or thinking, but have problems understanding speech or written words, or problems forming speech. With time and patience, a stroke survivor should be able to regain some, and sometimes all, language and speaking abilities.
Let us help
The Compliance Store has several resources to support caring for residents who have suffered strokes, including materials that address stroke rehabilitation. To learn more contact us today.