Stroke is a “heart attack” of the brain. This “brain attack” happens when the blood supply to a part of the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic) or a bleed (hemorrhagic). Depending on the severity of the stroke and how long blood flow to the brain is interrupted, a stroke can cause temporary or permanent disability, and in extreme cases even death.
In fact, according to the World Stroke Association, some 80 million people living in the world today have experienced a stroke and more than 50 million survivors live with some form of permanent disability as the result of a stroke.
A key to limiting the degree of disabilities from a stroke is to get treatment FAST. The sooner the signs of stroke are recognized and help is received, the better the chance for the victim’s recovery.
The four letters (F.A.S.T) are key to spotting a stroke:
FACE DROOPING — Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
ARM WEAKNESS — Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
SPEECH DIFFICULTY — Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
TIME TO CALL 9-1-1 — If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital.
But what if the worst happens?
The severity of stroke complications and each person's ability to recover vary widely. Along with the quickness of treatment, rehabilitation is key to helping a patient regain independence and improve quality of life after stroke. Researchers have found that people who participate in a focused stroke rehabilitation program perform better than most people who don't have stroke rehabilitation.
There are many approaches to stroke rehabilitation since patients are impacted differently by stroke. A patient’s rehabilitation plan will depend on the part of the body or type of ability affected by the stroke. The goal of stroke rehabilitation is to help the stroke survivor to relearn skills that may have been lost by the stroke’s effect on the brain. We treat many stroke patients in our rehabilitation center.
In addition, recent scientific studies have validated the importance of social support in stroke recovery. Social interaction and simply feeling connected to others helps ease depression and isolation so common to stroke victims. Fisher-Titus offers a quarterly support group for stroke patients and their families. You can call 419-663-1975 extension 3093 for more information.
Fisher-Titus Medical Center has been designated as a Primary Stroke Center since 2007. This year it was also recognized with the American Heart/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award and Target: Stroke SM Award.
Linnea Lodermeier is a certified speech-language pathologist who treats patients at the Walcher Rehabilitation Center at Fisher-Titus. She specializes in the treatments of adult patients. Linnea also coordinates the Fisher-Titus Stroke Support Group.