In the US, strokes are the fifth-leading cause of death. That’s why, when someone is having a stroke – minutes count.
Because the brain is being starved of the blood and oxygen it needs, prompt treatment reduces the risk of disabilities, brain damage, and even death.
This guide will discuss the signs of a stroke, what should be done when someone’s having a stroke, and how to find the best stroke rehabilitation for an individual’s needs.
What Are the Signs of a Stroke?
Stroke symptoms vary from person to person – but they’ll often come on quickly. As different parts of the body are controlled by different parts of the brain, a person’s symptoms will depend on how much damage has been caused and which part of the brain is affected.
However, some of the key indicators of a stroke will be found using the FAST symptom checker:
- Face: Their face may start drooping on one side, their eye or mouth may have drooped, or they might not be able to smile.
- Arms: They might not be able to lift one or both of their arms because numbness or weakness is preventing them from doing so.
- Speech: Their speech may be unclear or slurred. Or, even though they’re awake, they might not be able to talk.
- Time: If these signs of a stroke are recognizable, 911 should be called immediately, making a note of the symptoms and when they began.
However, sometimes a stroke may come on gradually or may cause different symptoms which can include:
- Blurred or lost vision
- Weakness, numbness, or paralysis to one side of the body
- Trouble speaking
- Severe headaches that start for no reason and cause blinding pain
- Issues with co-ordination or balance
- Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)
- Loss of consciousness
Again, any of these symptoms should be treated seriously and 911 should be called immediately. It’s also important for people to be aware of all the above symptoms in the case of a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which may also be referred to as a mini-stroke. While the symptoms are often the same as the ones listed above, they may only last a few minutes. Nevertheless, they should be treated with as much seriousness as a full-scale stroke because it increases the chance of a stroke in the future.
What People Should (and Shouldn’t) Do When Someone’s Having a Stroke
When someone’s having a stroke and the ambulance is on its way, there are a few things people should and shouldn’t do to increase the chances of recovery:
- They shouldn’t offer the person medication, drink, or food: Some strokes are caused in the brain by a ruptured blood vessel, which is why aspirin shouldn’t be given to a stroke victim.
And because their ability to swallow may have been affected, food or drink should be avoided altogether.
- They should keep notes of when the stroke happened: Due to how time-sensitive strokes are – it’s crucial notes are kept that indicate when the symptoms first started to occur.
The medication administered for a stroke (tPA) has to be given within 4.5 hours of the onset of the stroke. Any changes in their symptoms should be noted, too.
- They shouldn’t drive to the emergency room: While it’s important to act fast when someone’s had a stroke, no one should drive to the emergency room, even if the person who’s having a stroke isn’t driving.
Emergency responders can start giving them the treatment they need as soon as they arrive.
- They shouldn’t go to sleep: If the stroke survivor feels sleepy, they should be kept awake and shouldn’t be allowed to rest before they visit the emergency room.
- They should be made comfortable: If the person is conscious, they should be put on their side with their head supported and slightly raised. If they are unconscious, they should also be placed on their side once their breathing and pulse have been checked.
If they aren’t breathing, CPR needs to be performed straight away (the ambulance service will guide people through this procedure).
- Any restrictive clothing needs loosening: This helps them breathe better.
- They should remain calm and stay positive: The stroke victim needs to know they’re in safe hands and that help is on its way. People around them should talk in a soothing, calming manner.
Once first aid has been administered, how someone recovers from a stroke varies from patient to patient. It will depend on a variety of factors, from other underlying medical conditions to how quickly the stroke was treated. At first, acute care is required and this usually takes place in a hospital. There the patient’s condition will be monitored, stabilized, and treated. But the recovery process often goes on far longer than this initial stay in hospital and may require the help of skilled professionals who specialize in stroke rehabilitation. Rehabilitation can take place in an inpatient, outpatient, or at-home setting, depending on the amount and type of rehabilitation involved.
In an inpatient setting, the stroke victim will undergo an intense rehabilitation program over the course of two or three weeks, while home healthcare for stroke victims provides more flexibility and allows the patient to remain at home throughout their treatment. In other cases, the patient may be required to visit their local hospital for regular appointments and therapy. The aim is to strengthen motor skills, improve cognitive ability through occupational therapy, increase range of motion through physical therapy, and improve the patient’s overall mobility. Also, depending on the part(s) of their body affected, they may require additional treatments like speech therapy to improve their communication skills.
How Soon Should Someone Undergo Stroke Rehabilitation?
Stroke rehabilitation should be started as soon as possible as this increases the person’s chance of regaining lost skills and abilities. This could be as quickly as 24-48 hours after receiving treatment. How long this treatment lasts for is entirely dependent on the patient and their unique needs. Some stroke victims will recover most of their skills and abilities quickly, but often, it’s a long road to recovery. That’s why it’s important to put all the right measures in place from the offset, so they have the best possible chance of recovery. From recognizing the signs of a stroke to seeking the best stroke rehabilitation program in the area, acting fast is paramount for the future of stroke survivors.
To find out more about the stroke rehabilitation services we offer at Intrepid USA, call our friendly team today on 1-888-800-5311.