By CAROL TOMLINSON
Community Health Educator at HealthLink Littauer.
According to the National Stroke Association, every 40 seconds someone has a stroke. Sadly, only about 30 percent recognize the symptoms and get to a hospital in time to prevent disability. In fact, stroke is the leading cause of disability in adults. Together let’s change that…read on!
You lose approximately 2 million brain cells a minute during a stroke. Therefore, it is important that everyone become aware of stroke signs and be able to get help quickly.
You may have seen the FAST acronym from the American Heart Association. FAST stands for:
F = FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift down?
S = SPEECH: Ask the person to say a simple sentence such as, “The sky is blue.”
Do the words sound slurred or incomprehensible?
T = TIME: If you observe any of these signs, it is time to call 911.
Do not allow anyone, especially the person with stroke signs, to drive to the hospital. Ambulance personnel are equipped to recognize stroke symptoms and relay them to the hospital immediately. Care will be faster and the emergency department will be ready to work with the patient when they arrive.
The National Stroke Association has also added BE to the acronym.
B = BALANCE: Some stroke victims don’t have weakness but they do have severe balance difficulties.
Do they stand with difficulty or appear to walk with difficulty?
E = EYES: Some people present with vision loss in one or both eyes, or parts of the visual field are missing. Ask them to read a few words.
Once in the hospital, there are a number of possible new interventions that could reverse symptoms and/or limit further brain damage. However, these interventions are severely time limited. So recognition and quick action are the key to good outcomes.
Should a stroke survivor be left with disability, there are plenty of services available help to reduce and/or compensate for any deficits the stroke survivor has. A team approach is usually the treatment of choice. The patient may have physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and/or recreational therapy depending on the needs identified. Once again, the sooner therapy is started the better the outcomes.
A stroke affects not only the stroke survivor, but also family members and other caregivers. Rehabilitation cannot reverse brain damage, but it can help the brain learn new ways of doing things so that people can achieve the best possible long-term outcomes.
Nathan Littauer Hospital has a full complement of therapies. Research has shown that patients who receive occupational therapy interventions are significantly less likely to deteriorate and more likely to be independent in their ability to perform activities of daily living at the end of therapy.
To learn more, attend this month’s Vitality Plus luncheon featuring a presentation on “Occupational Therapy” on May 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Littauer’s Auditorium. Shelly Coffin O.T. will discuss how occupational therapy can assist with decreases in strength, flexibility and movement. Reservations for the buffet-style luncheon are requested by calling HealthLink at 736-1120. There is a $6 fee payable at the door.
Carol Tomlinson R.N. B.S., is a Community Health Educator at HealthLink Littauer.