What Is Stroke?
A stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain. Most strokes are caused by an abrupt blockage of arteries leading to the brain (ischemic stroke). Other strokes are caused by bleeding into brain tissue when a blood vessel bursts (haemorrhagic stroke).
The effects of a stroke depend on which part of the brain is injured, and how severely it is injured. Strokes may cause sudden weakness, loss of sensation, or difficulty with speaking, seeing, or walking.
5 Classic Warning Signs of Stroke
- Weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg, usually on just one side.
- Difficulty speaking or understanding language.
- Decreased or blurred vision in one or both eyes.
- Unexplained loss of balance or dizziness.
- Severe headache with no known cause.
Risk Factors For Stroke
Many factors can increase your stroke risk. Potentially treatable stroke risk factors include:
- Lifestyle risk factors
- Being overweight or obese
- Physical inactivity
- Heavy or binge drinking
- Use of illegal drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine
- Medical risk factors
- High blood pressure
- Cigarette smoking or secondhand smoke exposure
- High cholesterol
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart failure, heart defects, heart infection or abnormal heart rhythm, such as atrial fibrillation
- Personal or family history of stroke, heart attack or transient ischemic attack
- COVID-19 infection
When To See A Doctor
Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any signs or symptoms of a stroke, even if they seem to come and go or they disappear completely. Think “FAST” and do the following:
- Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Or is one arm unable to rise?
- Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange?
- If you observe any of these signs, call 911 or emergency medical help immediately.
A stroke can sometimes cause temporary or permanent disabilities, depending on how long the brain lacks blood flow and which part was affected. Complications may include:
- Paralysis or loss of muscle movement.
- Difficulty talking or swallowing.
- Memory loss or thinking difficulties.
- Emotional problems.
- Changes in behaviour and self-care ability.
The best way to prevent a stroke is to address the underlying causes. People can achieve this by making changes such as:
- eating a healthful diet
- maintaining a moderate weight
- exercising regularly
- not smoking
- avoiding alcohol, or only drinking moderately
- controlling their blood pressure levels
- managing diabetes
- getting treatment for heart disease
What Physiotherapist Can Offer?
From 24 hours after a stroke, physiotherapists begin rehabilitation in short frequent spells, focused on getting out of bed, standing and walking. This repetitive task training helps people regain movement and relearn everyday activities. Physiotherapists use assistive equipment to enhance stroke rehabilitation.
If and when function does return, physical therapy allows patients to relearn everyday skills and retrain their healthy brain cells to control the affected body parts.
In the early stages, physiotherapy focuses on preventing complications and helping your recovery. Later, it can help you find ways to enable you to do things that are important to you, such as getting in and out of bed, or doing sports. You might use equipment, or find different movements patterns to complete a task. A physiotherapist can also help you adapt an activity or task so you can do it independently.