An American has a stroke every 40 seconds. Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. In my years as an occupational therapist I have worked with countless victims of stroke. Some have had very minor effects, some have died and too many have suffered from permanent disabilities ranging from paralysis, vision deficits, problems understanding and expressing speech and trouble with cognitive tasks. Many were no longer to live independently and required assistance with previously easy tasks.
Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, cigarette smoking and a family history of these conditions. Risk for stroke also increases with age. While men are more likely to have a stroke, women are more likely to die from a stroke.
The best way to prevent a stroke is to control the associated medical conditions with the help of a healthy diet, physical activity and medications if necessary. Choosing not to smoke and knowing your family history are other good preventative measures.
Knowing the symptoms of a stroke can save not only your own life but the life of those around you. Getting treatment as quickly as possible can often prevent severe disability or even death. The American Heart and Stroke Associations have devised an acronym to help remember the symptoms of stroke: FAST.
F: Facial Drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?
A: Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb?
S: Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred or is the person unable to speak or understand when being spoken to?
T: Time to call 9-1-1. If any or all of these symptoms are present, even if they go away, it is time to get to the hospital.
When someone does suffer a stroke they can often regain some of their lost abilities with occupational, physical and speech therapy.
Since May is Stroke Awareness Month, I wanted to bring you a quick overview a stroke. It may save life and independence.
For Dignity & Independence!