Stroke Awareness Month

Posted by Reeve Staff in Daily Dose on May 20, 2015 # Health, News

May marks American Stroke Month for Stroke Awareness. Stroke, which paralyzes 1.6 million Americans, is the leading cause of paralysis, with spinal cord injury a close second.

The most common risk factors for a stroke are hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, and cigarette smoking. However, secondary conditions from living with a spinal cord injury such as Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD) can also lead to stroke. Therefore, it is important for individuals living with a spinal cord injury to recognize the symptoms.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly blocked or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, spilling blood into the spaces surrounding brain cells. There are two different types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes occur as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain, while hemorrhagic results from a weakened vessel that ruptures and bleeds into the surrounding brain.

Paralysis is a common feature of stroke, often on one side of the body (hemiplegia). The paralysis or weakness may affect only the face, an arm, or a leg or may affect one entire side of the body and face. However, the bleeding of the brain during an ischemic stroke can lead to full paraplegic or quadriplegic paralysis.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

This year, the American Stroke Association is focusing on educating the community on how to spot the symptoms of a stroke through the acronym F.A S.T.

Face drooping:

Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?

Arms weakness:

Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech difficulty:

Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time to Call 9-1-1:

If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared.

The additional symptoms of a stroke includes, trouble seeing in one or both eyes, trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination, or a sudden severe headache with no known cause.

What can you do to help?

If you see a person suffering the symptoms of a stroke, call 9-1-1 right away. Stroke has always been viewed as unpreventable and untreatable but can be treated if the patient seeks attention as soon as possible. Immediate treatment may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death. Thanks to recent medical advances, stroke treatments and survival rates have improved greatly over the last decade.

Learn more by visiting our Paralysis Resource Center for the following free resources:

- Download a fact sheet about stroke that includes resources.

- Check out a book from our Lending Library where you can find a wealth of books, journal articles, magazines and videos.

- Download or request a copy of our Paralysis Resource Guide.

- Request a free Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD) Wallet Card.