What is stroke?
A stroke is a loss of brain function caused by interruption of blood flow to the brain (Ischemic stroke), or a rupture of blood vessels inside the brain (Hemorrhagic stroke). Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) commonly known as a ‘mini-stroke’ is an instance of an Ischemic stroke that has symptoms that may only last for a few minutes. Just as you would with a regular stroke, a person who has suffered a TIA should be taken to the hospital. These mini-strokes are a warning that something much worse could be around the corner.
While things like age and family history are risk factors you can’t do anything about, there are many things you can do to improve your chances of not having a stroke.
• Get your blood pressure checked and under control
• Lose weight
• Exercise more
• Take low dose aspirin
• Treat atrial fibrillation
• Treat diabetes
• Stop smoking
Signs of a Stroke
If you suspect a person is experiencing a stroke, get them to a hospital immediately! Faster access to pertinent care can greatly improve a person’s recovery after. Think FAST! Act FAST!
F – Face is drooping on one side
A – Arm is weak
S – Speech is slurred
T – Time to call 911!
Numbness, strange pain, slurred speech, slowing down, weakness and drooping are all signs of stroke. Be aware!
If you have had a stroke, the road to recovery can be daunting, but there are many resources available to help. No two strokes are the same, and everyone’s journey is different. Your care will require the support of your health care providers, family, and friends.
“The road to recovery looks different for everyone—but there is a road and there is a recovery—and it is emotional, physical, and spiritual.” Come Back Strong
One of the challenges people who have had a stroke face is that their home is no longer accessible. Coming home from the hospital can be difficult when the bathroom, kitchen, front entrances and hallways are now difficult to navigate. Rental equipment can help to make things accessible temporarily until an assessment of long terms needs is done. For long-term needs, most people need to consider minor or major renovations to make their home work.
The market today for accessibility products is blossoming. From custom designed cutting boards for the cook who still wants to chop, to hygiene tools that are easy to grip, there are many products and augmentations you can make to improve your ease of living. The Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Tips and Tools page has a bounty of ideas and suggestions.
For the home, a barrier-free shower or slide-in bath can improve bathing on your own or with a caregiver. For stroke survivors hydrotherapy can play a large part in at-home recovery by encouraging circulation throughout the body. Grab bars placed strategically all over the home provide additional strength points, and non-stick coatings can be applied to just about every slippery surface to improve grip. Consider a raised toilet, and easy open cabinets that bring the items within out towards you. Simple changes such as a long handled bath brush or a bath mitt can provide easier methods of doing things, and retain independence.
Making your home safer and accessible for a stroke survivor starts with having a specialist (such as an occupational therapist) visit your home to make personalized suggestions based on the survivor’s individual needs. With some careful adjustments, a home can be made easily accessible for after stroke living.
References and Facts:
Come Back Strong
Stroke Association – Life After Stroke
Heart and Stroke Foundation