What is it?
A stroke, also known as a Cerebrovascular Accident or CVA, occurs when blood flow to certain areas of the brain are cut off, causing brain cells to lose oxygen. When brain cells do not get oxygen for a long period, they begin to die and lose their ability to function properly. A stroke may occur in any part or in multiple parts of the brain and may cause little or maximal damage. How much damage occurs depends on the extent of blood vessels or areas of the brain affected. Minor strokes may only cause temporary weakness of an arm or leg, while major strokes may cause permanent paralysis on one side of the body.
How Does it Happen?
As mentioned above a stroke may occur when a blood clot cuts off blood flow to one or more areas of the brain. Bleeding in the brain from an aneurysm bursting may also lead to stroke, however this is not common.
The most common symptoms of stroke are sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding, sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, and sudden severe headache with no known cause. If any of these symptoms are observed, seek medical attention right away.
What Can You Do?
Physical therapy is an effective method of treatment that may help patients following a stroke regain function. Depending on the severity of the stroke, patients may be able to recover completely. Following a stroke, there is ample opportunity for the brain to recover because the brain is plastic in nature, it can be retrained with proper exercises and functional activities. Recovery following a stroke may be a difficult journey, but physical therapists are experts in prescribing the appropriate exercises for rehabilitation and can assist in relearning old skills or learning new skills.