Written by Cindy Charlton, Director of the Neurological Rehabilitation Center at Easterseals Colorado

Yes, I am shouting this to the proverbial rafters.

As the director of Easterseals Colorado Neurological Rehabilitation Adult day program, I can honestly say that the vast majority of the participants in the program are stroke survivors.  I get calls weekly from family caregivers of loved ones who have had strokes. Even though medications and early interventions can help lessen the brain damage caused by stroke, there is still damage that needs to be addressed and rehabilitation that needs to take place to help in the stroke survivor’s recovery and assist in the reclamation of their lives.

There are two types of stroke, hemorrhagic and ischemic. Hemorrhagic strokes are less common. In fact only 15 percent of all strokes are hemorrhagic, but they are responsible for about 40 percent of all stroke deaths. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a brain aneurysm bursts or a weakened blood vessel leaks. Blood spills into or around the brain and creates swelling and pressure, damaging cells and tissue in the brain.

The more common stroke, Ischemic stroke, is caused from a blood clot in the brain which restricts or completely cuts off blood flow to a certain area of the brain. Brain cells become deprived of oxygen and begin to die. Either type of stroke can cause you a permanent to limited loss of speech, movement and/or memory.

A Transient ischemic attack (TIA) also known as a “mini stroke,” happens when the blood flow to the brain stops for a short period of time. They can mimic stroke-like symptoms which usually disappear within 24 hours or less. While TIAs generally do not cause permanent brain damage, they are a serious warning sign that a stroke may happen in the future. A medical professional should be made aware if you or your loved one has had stoke-like symptoms.

TIAs are usually caused by one of three things:

  1. Low blood flow at a narrow part of a major artery carrying blood to the brain, such as the carotid artery.
  2. A blood clot in another part of the body (such as the heart) breaks off, travels to the brain, and blocks a blood vessel in the brain.
  3. Narrowing of the smaller blood vessel in the brain, blocking blood flow for a short period of time; usually caused by plaque (a fatty substance) build-up.

Some important facts to keep in mind include:

  • 40 percent of people who have a TIA will have an actual stroke
  • Nearly half of all strokes occur within the first few days after a TIA
  • Symptoms for TIA are the same as for a stroke

It is vitally important to be aware of stroke symptoms. Remember the life you save could be your own.

Stroke symptoms include:

SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes
SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause

If you or someone you know has suffered from a stroke, click here to learn more about how our Neurological Rehabilitation Center can help. Or contact Cindy Charlton at charlton@eastersealscolorado.org or 303.953.1377 x 343.

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