Stroke

Stroke occurs when the blood flow to an area of the brain is suddenly interrupted, cutting off the supply of oxygen and nutrients to brain cells resulting in temporary or lasting damage.

Around 85 per cent of strokes are ischaemic, whereby the interruption of flow is caused either by a blood clot within an artery or one which has travelled from the heart to the brain, particularly through a disturbance of heart rhythm in a condition called Atrial Fibrillation (AF).

Some strokes are haemorrhagic, caused by a burst blood vessel in the brain, often due to high blood pressure.

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Symptoms & Diagnosis

Stroke is a major cause of death and disability worldwide. More than 100,000 strokes happen each year in the UK. There are major advances in acute stoke management such as clot busting treatment (thrombolysis). The outcome after a stroke depends on the stroke’s severity and the area of the brain affected. Those who have experienced a stroke may be left with weakness or even paralysis in one side of the body. Their joints and limbs may move in a different way to what they were previously accustomed to. Their limbs may feel heavy or numb, they may have difficulties with posture and balance, their joints on the affected side may be vulnerable to injury and they may develop muscle spasms.

Two-thirds of stroke survivors are likely to have a degree of disability, usually with a combination of impairments, for example in emotional state, perception, speech, swallowing, motor and sensory functions, vision or bladder and bowel control.

Treatment & Rehabilitation

The goal of stroke rehabilitation is to improve or restore cognitive function, speech and language function, motor and/or sensory skills, to promote independence, reduce the care burden, and raise quality of life and resume social function in family life and work. There is evidence that stroke management and rehabilitation reduces mortality and institutionalisation. Early rehabilitation, beginning as soon possible after a stroke once clinical stability is achieved, lowers the risk of complications and enhances the chances of restoring function. Education as part of the rehabilitation process minimises recurrence. There are multiple risk factors for stroke, some of them non-modifiable such as increasing age, family history and incurable conditions such as diabetes, others which the patient has control over including blood pressure, cholesterol, lack of activity, alcohol intake, smoking and other lifestyle factors.

The duration of rehabilitation depends greatly on the nature and severity of the stroke. Some sufferers recover within a few weeks; others need long-term rehabilitation over an extended period of time spanning several months. Recovery can continue beyond the limited time that most rehabilitation services in an acute setting can offer.

Circle offers full support to patients in the crucial first few weeks after a stroke in a comfortable, friendly and relaxed environment, to ensure that the transition from acute hospital back to the home or a care setting is as smooth as possible. Our stroke rehabilitation programmes are built on VAMED’s evidence-based Central European model to accelerate recovery. Our team will devise an individualised treatment plan for each patient, including up to three hours of therapy a day. We offer state of the art equipment, ample therapy space, and care from a highly experienced team of therapists led by a rehabilitation consultant.

Tips for recovery from the Stroke Association

  • Practise the exercises your therapist has set you
  • Keep to a routine of exercising at a regular time each day
  • Remember the more you do, the better, so try to exercise every day or at least three times a week
  • Use a notebook to remind you what you need to do and record your progress
  • Remember to involve and move your affected side as much as possible
  • Be patient with yourself. You are aiming for long-term rather than immediate results
  • Many people worry that being active might cause another stroke. This is very unlikely, but if you have any pain or are excessively breathless (getting a little out of breath is a good thing), then stop. If this does not subside after a short rest then seek medical attention
  • If you suffer from post-stroke fatigue, exercise can help but start slowly and build it up gradually. Choose a time of day to exercise when you are feeling relatively lively. Recognise that you may need to rest afterwards
  • Take steps to keep to a sensible weight
  • Join an exercise group or stroke club to meet and be encouraged by other people
  • Ask your physiotherapist about resuming sports and activities that you enjoy
  • Try new activities that will help you to maintain or improve your recovery

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