Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in adults. Stroke can happen to anyone at any time—regardless of race, sex, or even age—but more women than men have a stroke each year, and African Americans have almost twice the risk of first-ever stroke than whites do.
If you have one or more of the following symptoms, immediately call 911 or emergency medical services (EMS) so that an ambulance can be sent for you:
If You Think Someone Might Be Having a Stroke
Act F.A.S.T.! Emergency treatment with a clot-buster drug called t-PA can help reduce or even eliminate problems from stroke, but it must be given within 3 hours of when you start having symptoms. Recognizing the symptoms can be easy if you remember to think F.A.S.T.
F=Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A=Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S=Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T=Time. If you observe any of these signs, call 911.
Research shows that people with stroke who arrive at the hospital by ambulance receive quicker treatment than those who arrive by their own means.
Stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack.” With a heart attack, blood supply to the heart is reduced or stopped. With a stroke, blood supply to part of the brain is reduced or stopped. This means that part of the brain does not receive enough oxygen. Millions of brain cells die every minute during a stroke, increasing the risk of permanent brain damage, disability, or death.
One common cause of blockage that leads to stroke is a blood clot or a build-up of fatty deposits (arteriosclerosis) in blood vessels that supply the brain. The reduction in blood flow results in an ischemic stroke. Most strokes are ischemic.
Another common cause of stroke is a leaking vessel in the brain. This is called a hemorrhagic stroke.
If you are having a stroke, you might:
A transient ischemic attack (TIA) is a kind of “warning stroke” or “mini-stroke” that produces stroke-like symptoms but no permanent damage.
Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke.
Stroke can cause a range of long-term problems, such as:
How well you recover from stroke – and how long it takes to recover—depend on the size and location of the stroke, how quickly you receive care, and, in some cases, other health conditions you might already have.
Rehabilitation begins very soon after your stroke, and your physical therapist is an important member of your health care team. The therapist’s main goal is to help you return to your roles in the home, in the community, and at work.
After examining you and evaluating your condition, your physical therapist will develop an individualized plan to help you achieve the best quality of life you can. The plan will focus on your ability to move, any pain you might have, and ways to prevent problems that can occur after a stroke.
One of the first things your physical therapist will do is show you how to move safely from the bed to a chair. Later, the therapist will:
Depending on the results of the physical therapist’s evaluation, and depending on how long it’s been since you had your stroke, treatment will vary.
Your physical therapist will design a training program based on tasks that you need to do every day, selecting from well-established as well as cutting-edge treatments. Physical therapist researchers are at the forefront of innovating many of these techniques:
Your needs will change over time. Even after rehabilitation is completed, your physical therapist will assess your progress, update your exercise program, help you prevent further problems, and promote the healthiest possible lifestyle.
Some risk factors for stroke can’t be changed—such as family history, age, gender, race (stroke death rates are higher for African Americans even at younger ages) and previous heart attack or stroke. But there are many other stroke risks that you can change:
All of these risks can be reduced through lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise. As experts in designing exercise programs tailored for people with health problems, physical therapists can help you reduce your risks for stroke.
All physical therapists are prepared through education and experience to treat a variety of conditions or injuries. You may want to consider:
You can find physical therapists who have these and other credentials by using Find a PT, the online tool built by the American Physical Therapy Association to help you search for physical therapists with specific clinical expertise in your geographic area.
General tips when you’re looking for a physical therapist (or any other health care provider):
*PubMed is a free online resource developed by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI). PubMed contains millions of citations to biomedical literature, including citations in the National Library of Medicine’s MEDLINE database.
Authored by Deutsch, PT, PhD, and APTA’s Section on Neurology. Reviewed by the MoveForwardPT.com editorial board.
Article Originates: http://www.moveforwardpt.com/SymptomsConditionsDetail.aspx?cid=929683c9-e6ab-4b0b-ad65-1c4d69dfa269#.VCsw6Uu4lFI
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