Stroke explained : Facts and more
Many times you hear your friends or family saying that someone they know got a stroke but what is a stroke.
A stroke usually happens when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted or even reduced, which in turn prevents the brain tissue from getting nutrients and oxygen. Due to which, brain cells start dying. It is a medical emergency, and prompt treatment is crucial as it can reduce brain damage and other complications.
According to CDC, these are the signs in men and women during Stroke:
a) Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
b) Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
c) Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
d) Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
e) Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
What are the problems or repercussions of a stroke?
1. The patient develops sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis in the face, arm or leg. It mostly affects just one side of your body. One side of your mouth may droop when you try to smile.
2. Difficulty in understanding and expressing speech, reading, or writing.
3. Difficulty swallowing such as things ‘going down the wrong pipe’, leading to aspiration pneumonia.
4. Poor memory and attention span, or difficulty solving problems.
5. Inattention to one side of the body, also known as neglect; in extreme cases, they may not be aware of their arm or leg.
6. Vision problems in one or both eyes. It is also possible to suddenly have blurred or blackened vision in one or both eyes, or see double.
7. Clinical depression, stroke may cause unwanted and unanticipated emotional and physical reactions to changes and losses.
8. Bedsores, ulcers from decreased physical activity and pressure on areas of the body because of immobility.
Treatment for Stroke consists of two phases.
Phase 1: Immediate care
The immediate care consists of medications, supportive care such as cardiac monitoring, surgeries such as Cardiac endarterectomy. This care is usually provided by the hospital as soon as the stroke is observed.
Phase 2: Rehabilitation
Stroke rehabilitation consists of a program which consists of various therapies. These therapies are Speech Therapy, Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, and Psychological counselling.
The goal of stroke rehabilitation is to help you relearn the skills you lost. The aim of stroke rehabilitation is to gain independence while improving quality of life.
The severity of the stroke and the intensity of the program depend on each person's ability to recover and therefore, may vary.
1. Speech and Language Therapy:
Often with Stroke, Speech and Language issues persist. Although there is a chance for spontaneous recovery where within a span of days, or weeks, some instant recovery can be done on its own.
However, if the individual has been diagnosed with a Speech or Language Disorder such as Aphasia, Apraxia or Dysarthria, the neurologist will refer you to a Speech- Language Pathologist(SLP). An SLP will use evidence and research-based intervention methods to provide you with useful therapy techniques. They will help you in understanding, writing, reading and speaking aspects of language. The purpose is to bring back appropriate verbal and non- verbal forms of communication while also working on cognition. If you want to know more about Speech and Language Issues post-stroke, we will be posting a blog on that soon.
Following 24 hours after a stroke, physiotherapy is begun focusing on tasks as minor as getting out of bed, standing and walking. Their training helps people regain movement and also relearn everyday activities. Physiotherapists also use assistive equipment to enhance stroke rehabilitation. High-intensity therapy is needed to relearn lost abilities.
3. Occupational Therapy:
Occupational therapists help Stroke patients work on their sensory and motor skills during the post-stroke recovery period so that patients are able to (re)learn valuable skills, including things like grooming, using phone, cooking and speaking. With these skills, stroke survivors are able to return to their normal life. They learn strategies to overcome challenges, effectively.
4. Psychological Counselling:
Depression, emotional outbursts, frustration and anxiety are common symptoms experienced by many stroke patients. These symptoms can increase worries because going back into everyday life when physical or mental abilities have changed can be frustrating. Therefore, for stroke survivors, it is extremely beneficial to remember taking care of their mental health and getting psychological care when needed. Doctors might recommend an antidepressant or a medication that affects alertness, agitation or movement.
There are also Technology-assisted physical activities that are used in stroke rehabilitation. They are:
Functional electrical stimulation. Here, electricity is applied to weakened muscles, which causes the muscles to contract. It gives stimulation to muscles.
Robotic technology is when Robotic devices assist impaired limbs by performing repetitive motions. Limbs get great strength from the motions.
Wireless technology. An activity monitor might help you increase post-stroke activity.
Virtual reality. VR technology, video games and computer-based therapies offer an interactive simulated environment.
How long does the treatment take?
The duration of stroke rehabilitation depends majorly on the severity and complications of the stroke. Some stroke survivors may have a quick recovery. However, most probably need some form of long-term stroke rehabilitation, which may last for months or even years after their stroke. Your intervention plan may change depending during your recovery depending on your skills and needs. Recovery from a stroke may be a long and frustrating journey. It's normal to face challenges, along the way. However, persistence, dedication and willingness will help you gain
the desired outcome.