Time Is Brain: A Long-Term Timeline
A stroke can be a devastating event that permanently changes a person’s ability to function. It can result in minor debilitation, such as muscle weakness, or a more serious disability, such as the inability to speak.
The physical effects of a stroke depend on the type of stroke, the stage at which it’s diagnosed and treated, and the general health of the person experiencing the stroke.
Click through the slideshow to learn more about warning signs and stroke rehabilitation.
What Is Stroke?
A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks and prevents blood flow to a portion of the brain. Brain cells start to die and brain damage occurs when the brain is deprived of blood.
While stroke-induced brain damage can be extensive and permanent, it can often be reduced through early diagnosis and treatment, according to the National Stroke Association (NSA).
It’s extremely important to familiarize yourself with the early signs of stroke and seek immediate medical attention if you begin to experience any of them.
Warning signs of stroke are summarized in the acronym FAST, which the NSA defines as follows:
- face: if a person smiles and one side of the face droops
- arms: if a person tries to raise both arms but one of them involuntarily drifts downward
- speech: if a person is asked to repeat a simple phrase and their speech is slurred or abnormal
- time: if a person presents any of the aforementioned symptoms, call 911 immediately
Three Minutes Make a Difference
Familiarize yourself with stroke warning signs and don’t hesitate to seek medical care if you think you or someone else may be suffering a stroke. This is the best course of action for limiting brain damage and improving recovery time.
According to the NSA, if a stroke victim gets medical attention within three hours of symptom onset, they can receive an IV-drip of clot-buster medication. The medication may help break up the clot and reduce long-term disability.
What are your odds for recovery? According to the NSA, general stroke recovery guidelines show that:
- 10 percent of those who survive a stroke experience almost complete recovery
- 25 percent of stroke survivors recover with only minor impairments
- 40 percent have moderate to severe impairments that require special care
- 10 percent need care in a long-term care facility
- 15 percent die soon after the stroke
Physical rehabilitation can often significantly improve a person’s functional ability. While recovery time and effectiveness vary greatly from person to person, the following therapies have proven successful:
- therapy administered while in a hospital
- therapy administered while in a subacute care unit
- therapy administered in a rehabilitation hospital
- home therapy
- out-patient therapy
- therapy and skilled nursing care provided in a long-term care facility
When selecting the best rehabilitation option for a loved one, consider which option would make the stroke patient most comfortable and willing to learn.
The rehabilitation process often involves relearning such basic tasks as eating and dressing oneself, so the more relaxed and unthreatened a patient feels, the faster they’re likely to recover. A major goal of stroke rehabilitation is to improve patient function to promote independence.
According to the NSA, statistics suggest that over 7 million Americans have survived a stroke and now live with its after-effects. While stroke is an unexpected and often devastating occurrence, damage can often be minimized with early detection, treatment, and consistent rehabilitative care.
The rehabilitation process can be tedious and frustrating, but keeping a positive and determined outlook may mean the difference between a slow or speedy recovery.
Your Actions Make a Difference
If a stroke goes undetected or untreated for more than three hours, there is a strong possibility that more severe brain damage will occur, according to the NSA. However, this doesn’t mean that the effects of the stroke are completely irreversible. The course of treatment and success rate of stroke rehabilitation is highly personal. You can make a difference by approaching stroke recovery with patience and perseverance.