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All About Strokes: Part 1

Strokes can affect our life or the life of a loved one in the blink of an eye.

I have the wonderful opportunity to work with a 78-year-old woman who suffered a stroke a year ago.

Her stoke left her paralyzed on the right side, leaving her with limited mobility and speech. However, with all of her limitations, she continues to strive to improve her life and achieve her goals of regaining more speech and improving on the mobility she has.

In my time working with her, I’ve seen how strokes not only affect the individual, but the entire family. My time with her has also made me appreciate my ability to move and speak because I can share my mobility and speech to help her achieve her goals.

According to the National Stroke Association,

A stroke or "brain attack" occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.

One of the interesting facts about strokes is that each person is affected differently based on which part of the brain was hit by the blockage and how severe it was. As I stated, my client is paralyzed on the right side and her speech is impaired. Our neighbor also had a stroke and lost part of his vision and his balance has been altered. Some people can recover from strokes, while others are left with a lifetime of disabilities.

Along with varying degrees of severity, there are also different types of strokes. A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) occurs when blood flow from a brain artery is slowed or blocked for a short period of time.

If a person experiences a TIA, they may feel numbness, have trouble speaking or articulating their words, and lose some coordination. It is normal for these symptoms to come quickly and then disappear. A TIA may or may not be fully noticeable, but it can be an indication that you are more susceptible to a larger stroke. You should immediately contact your doctor if you suspect you’ve had a TIA.

A more damaging type of stroke is called ischemic stroke. This is the most common type of stroke and is classified even more specifically between embolic stroke and thrombotic stroke.

The embolic stroke occurs when there is a blood clot somewhere in the body (often in the heart) and it moves to the brain causing a blockage to occur. A thrombotic stroke occurs when a blood clot forms in an artery that supplies the brain and cuts of blood flow. This type of blockage can also cause a stroke.

A hemorrhagic stroke is when a blood vessel bursts in the brain and as a result spills blood into the brain. This spillage causes the brain cells to die. A more specific type of hemorrhagic stroke is called intracerebral stroke. This type of stroke is more likely to be seen in someone who has high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.

Knowing the type of stroke is just the beginning in taking steps to prevent them. In part two of the article, there will be information about the signs and symptoms of a stroke and stroke prevention.

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