Helping Victims of Strokes

More than 700,000 people suffer from a stroke each year in the United States. Strokes are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the most common cause of long-term disability. One American dies of a stroke every four minutes.

It is thought that sensory stimulation, i.e.: gentle touching of the face and hands, etc., or talking in a soft voice to the person who is suspected of having a stroke may reroute the brain’s blood supply while waiting for an ambulance to arrive. By doing this, it is hoped that the stimulation may assist in keeping cells from dying while a person is experiencing a stroke.

There is also a drug available that breaks up blood clots if it is administered within three hours following a stroke. However, it doesn’t work for everyone and of course, getting help quickly is of paramount importance.

But what is required after someone has had a stroke? A person who has suffered from a stroke should begin rehabilitation no more than 24 to 48 hours following their stroke because most will require at least some rehabilitation in order to become as independent as possible in the future.

It may be necessary to relearn some skills that may have been lost, i.e.: walking or talking. They may have to learn new ways of doing things, i.e.: how to bath, dress themselves or to eat. They may only be able to use one hand. If that is the case, they will have to practice repetitive exercises to strengthen the stroke-impaired limb. If there is some weakness or paralysis on one side of their body, they should use those limbs to do basic activities for their daily living, i.e.: dressing, bathing and eating. Once begun, it may be an ongoing process to maintain and refine these skills.

Strokes can affect both speaking or understanding; motor control, i.e.: their face, arm or leg on usually one side of their body; sensory disturbance problems; memory and cognitive problems; emotional disturbances, i.e.: psychological trauma as a result of the stroke, and depression. As in other brain injuries, stroke victims will not usually experience all of these problems and the fortunate ones will have only mild limitations that may require little rehabilitation.

Many people are involved in stroke rehabilitation: the patient, family members, caregivers, doctors, rehabilitation nurses, physical therapists, occupational and recreational therapists, speech therapists and vocational therapists.

As a family member, if you have been there when the stroke happened, your most important task is to get your loved one to the hospital as quickly as possible because early intervention will mean there will be a more positive outcome.

It is important if a family member has had a stroke that he/she and his family members/caregiver do all they can to work towards rehabilitation so they are not one of the more negatively impacted.

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