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Strokes

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Stroke, Why People Have Them and How Do They Recover

A stroke is one of those things that is not really predictable and doesn’t really care who is affected by it. I can honestly say that I didn’t ever really care to look into and study what a stroke was, or how people might recover from it until I met my wife. In what I know a stroke is a lack of oxygen to the brain for a period of time which will vary from person to person. During this time period where there is no oxygen flowing to the brain damage is being done. That damage will not fully present itself until the victim comes to and can attempt the regular day to day tasks and actions. People can have different side effects to strokes and different recovery times. Also, due to the severity of some peoples’ stroke, some symptoms may never go away. I always assumed that strokes only happened to older people, possibly with high blood pressure or a poor way of living. I never knew that this horrible thing could take victims that were so young and full of life. For my wife, her stroke came following a surgical procedure and she ended up in a coma. In her situation upon waking up it was discovered that she had lost all use of the left side of her body. As time went on it was also determined that her memory had been affected. At that point in time we didn’t really know what her recovery would entail and what if any improvements she would make. I just knew that we had to pray for the best and hope that she had a guardian angel watching over her. By researching the topic of a stroke I hope to be able to learn just what causes these medical inconveniences, what the signs and symptoms are and how one can recover. In order to really get a good understanding of what a stroke is and why it might happen along with what the possible symptoms are and how one can recover I turned to the LIRN site on Grantham University’s Academic tab. A stroke is “A sudden loss of neurological function, caused by vascular injury (loss of blood flow) to an area of the brain. Stroke is both common and deadly: about 700,000 strokes occur in the U.S. each year.” (Stroke, 2009) In the United States, stroke is the third leading killer amongst society. There are some risk factors out there that can lead to a person having a stroke. Some of these risks include being of the male gender, smoking, excessive drinking, obesity, physical inactivity, being of a non-white race and being closely related to someone who has had a stroke. Taking into consideration these factors, I still was unclear as to why my wife had suffered a stroke. My wife does not smoke, is not obese, stayed active her entire life playing soccer and exercising, did not drink heavily and was not related to anyone closely who had suffered a stroke before. There are four main types of strokes which include; paralytic, lacunar, ischemic and mini strokes. A paralytic stroke is just as it sounds, it causes a loss of muscular function. Lacunar strokes are caused by a pathological change in the brain which creates a diminished or lack of blood flow to the brain. This type of stroke might not produce any clear symptoms or changes in the patient, but if a series of this type of stroke occurs over and over then progressive dementia might occur. An ischemic stroke is usually the lead in to hemorrhagic strokes. These strokes cause a diminished blood flow to a specific artery in the brain. A mini stroke is another term used for an ischemic stroke. “The first sign of a cerebral hemorrhage is usually a sudden severe headache. This is quickly followed by obvious functional loss such as paralysis down one side of the body, loss of vision to one side, fixed turning of the eyes to one side and perhaps a major epileptic-type fit.” (Stroke, 2000) Other symptoms can include slurred speech, dizziness, and a change in gait pattern or sudden falling. For my wife we didn’t realize anything was actually wrong until she tried to get out of the bed to use the restroom. It was at this point we realized her entire left side had been affected because she immediately fell to the floor when she tried to stand up after struggling to get out of the bed.
“After the acute phase of stroke, rehabilitation goals depend on the severity of the patient’s deficit, the age of the patient, the presence of comorbidities and prior functional status, his or her ability to perform activities of daily living independently, and the family and social support systems available. The rehabilitation program will consist of various types of exercises, including neuromuscular retraining, motor learning and motor control, and functional activities that emphasize relearning or retraining in basic skills required for self-care.” (Stroke, 2009) A good analogy that we were given by a doctor in Florida which we sought out treatment from to look at recovery, was to look at the brain like a dart board. Starting at the outer most ring and working your way to the bull’s eye is how your recovery will work. For instance, the symptom or side effect in the outer most rings will heal quickest and first. Working your way towards the bull’s eye the symptoms or side effects will take more time to heal and might not fully recover. When you get to the bull’s eye, whatever symptom or side effect from your stroke that sits there is what will probably never heal. Since each person’s brain is wired differently no two people will have the same dart board and everyone’s recovery will vary. Fortunately for my wife, it appears the bull’s eye to her dart board consists of some fine motor skill problems, lack of sensation and some long term memory loss. We count our blessings every day that her condition is not worse then what it is. Also, with the advancements in medicine and technology my wife is able to walk on her own two feet without using any crutches or a cane. She is also out of her orthotic devices and continues to improve on a rate we are very happy with. It is important to make sure that all stroke victims are given positive reinforcement when they are in recovery and going through rehabilitation. From working with my wife I now know firsthand how serious a stroke is and what it takes to get your loved one to a better place. Recovery is a long and cumbersome plight not only for the patient but also for the caretaker. Persistence is the key to a meaningful recovery and a productive life post stroke.

Works Cited

Stroke. (2000). Retrieved August 18, 2010, from The Royal Society of Medicine Health Encyclopedia: www.credoreference.com/entry/rsmhealth/stroke
Stroke. (2009). Retrieved August 18, 2010, from Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary: www.credoreference.com/entry/tcmd/stroke

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