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.
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.
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