may is national stroke awareness month
April 25, 2022
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and one in six Americans will have a stroke in their lifetime. Part of National Stroke Awareness Month is educating people about the warning signs of a stroke and how to live with the physical and psychological effects of the condition.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke is a medical event during which blood supply is reduced or blocked in the brain. Each section of your brain is responsible for a different body function. Without proper blood flow, the affected areas will begin to shut down and sustain long-term neurological damage. The effects of a stroke depend on what side of your brain is damaged and the severity of the episode.
Strokes can occur in one or more of the following centers of the brain:
Right brain stroke: Strokes that damage the right side of your brain affect the left side of your body, which may include paralysis. You may also experience memory loss or dementia, visions problems and behavior changes.
Left brain stroke: A left brain stroke will impact the function of the right side of your body. You may experience right-sided paralysis, problems with speech and language, memory loss or dementia and slowed behavior.
Brain stem stroke: A stroke in your brain stem can affect both sides of your body, depending on its severity. The brain stem controls consciousness, motor function and breathing. Some people experience a “locked-in” state which involves complete paralysis below the neck and speech impairment.
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Warnings Signs of a Stroke
When it comes to watching out for the signs of a stroke, it’s important to BE FAST.
- B: Balance issues, dizziness or vertigo
- E: Blurred or double vision in the eyes
- F: Face drooping
- A: Arm or leg weakness
- S: Speech impairment or difficulty
- T: Time to call 911
The longer a stroke goes untreated, the more dangerous it becomes. Around 1.9 million brain cells die per minute during a stroke, so seeking immediate medical attention will increase your chance of survival and lower your risk of long-term disability.
Living with the Effects of a Stroke
A stroke can cause:
- Blood clots
- Muscle weakness or rigidity
- Sleep disorders
- Emotional disorders
- Trouble swallowing
Accepting the behavioral and physical changes caused by a stroke can be frightening. However, it’s important to rely on your medical team to answer questions and provide physical and emotional support. You’ll undergo function tests to assess the extent of the stroke’s impact and may begin physical, occupational and speech therapies.
Your care needs might require you to live in a senior care facility during stroke recovery, or you may be able to recover at home. Setting wellness goals with your therapy team will motivate you and help you track your recovery progress.
Taking Care of Someone Recovering from a Stroke
If you decide to care for a loved one who’s suffered a stroke, you’ll face new responsibilities. They may have difficulties communicating, caring for themselves and completing daily tasks. Consult their team of specialists to understand their physical and mental capabilities, so you can plan your care accordingly.
You may experience a sense of grief after someone you love suffers a stroke, especially if they experience a change in their personality. It’s essential to address your feelings and emotional needs, so you can heal and promote a good quality of life for yourself and your loved one.