Getting your life back after stroke
Every five minutes, someone in the UK has a stroke. While most people affected are over 65 anyone can have a stroke – at any age. After a stroke, survivors can be left with long-term problems that can affect all aspects of their life.
A stroke is a serious, life-threatening medical condition that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.
Strokes are a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential because the sooner a person receives treatment for a stroke, the less damage is likely to happen.
Like all organs, the brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly. If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain injury, disability and possibly death.
Treatment depends on the type of stroke you have, including which part of the brain was affected and what caused it.
Most often, strokes are treated with medication. This generally includes medicines to prevent and remove blood clots, reduce blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels.
In some cases, surgery may be required to treat brain swelling and reduce the risk of further bleeding in cases of haemorrhagic strokes.
Some people need to have a long period of rehabilitation before they can recover their former independence, while many will never fully recover and will need support adjusting to living with the effects of their stroke.
Around half the people who have a stroke will be dependent on some form of care for help with their daily activities.
The process of rehabilitation will be specific to you, and will depend on your symptoms and how severe they are. A team of specialists are available to help, including physiotherapists, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and specialist nurses and doctors.
Help and support is also available from the charities such as The Stroke Association, where you can download this factsheet on the physical effects of stroke and as well as accessing a wealth of other information. Different Strokes is a charity that specialises in supporting younger stroke survivors.
One of the most common problems is drop foot, which leaves people unable to lift their foot properly when walking. Drop foot can lead to trips and falls and can shatter confidence when walking.
Incidence rates of painful shoulder in early rehabilitation are reported to range from 15 – 40%.
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