21/01/206 Things About Stroke Care You Should Know After A Loved One Has Had A Stroke
Each year approx. 85,000 people in the UK are admitted to hospital for a stroke. There are over 1 million survivors in England living with the effects of having a stroke. Strokes can be caused by genetics in some people but 70% of all strokes could be prevented. (Source: NHS)
Having a stroke or caring for a loved one who has had a stroke can be daunting, especially not knowing what the effects are and what the long term prognosis may be. We have created this ‘Stroke Care’ factsheet based on professional information to help you and your loved ones have a greater understanding of life after a stroke.
Recovery after a stroke will be dependent on many factors including:
1. The Type Of Stroke
A stroke is a serious emergency medical condition when the blood supply is cut off from certain parts of the brain. This stops the brain retrieving vital nutrients and oxygen that is carried via your blood network. The brain cells can become damaged as a result. Consequences of a stroke vary depending on the severity of the attack but can be anything from a change in behaviour to life-threatening.
There are three different types of strokes: (click here for more information about each of these strokes).
- Ischaemic stroke
- Haemorrhagic stroke
- Transient Ischaemic attack (TIA)
2. The Effects Of A Stroke
There are many physical side effects that a person can have as a result of having a stroke. Here are the most common (Source: Stroke Association):
- Drop foot – where the muscles that lift the toes are too weak, causing them to catch the ground beneath when walking
- Stamina – it can be challenging to stay moving for longer periods of time and can lead to feeling a little out of control with muscular movements, making you feel clumsy.
- Spasticity – this refers to the tightness of muscles, making it a challenge to easily move both legs and arms.
- Difficulty speaking and understanding what people are saying.
- Difficulty speaking clearly. This can be due to a lack of control in the muscles in your face.
Individuals can have noticeable behaviour changes and become:
- Irritable and annoyed
- Stressed and angry
- Show a lack of interest
- Lack of rational decision making
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory loss
Strokes can also induce more serious conditions such as epilepsy, hallucinations and locked-in syndrome although these are much less common. For more detailed information, visit Stroke Association website.
Having a stroke can also make an individual more susceptible to developing vascular dementia. This occurs when the stroke has affected the part of the brain responsible for making decisions and thinking processes. For more information about vascular dementia and other types of dementia, please click here.
3. What Happens In Hospital After A Stroke?
When someone has had a stroke, or you suspect they are having a stroke it is essential that you immediately call 999 so that the individual receives the necessary treatment. The quicker they receive it, the higher the chance of survival.
Once admitted to the hospital, the individual will have a brain scan so that the medical team can diagnose the type of stroke and therefore treat it in the most effective way. Whilst in hospital, individuals will be closely monitored and treated accordingly.
Improvements made after an individual has had a stroke are the most prominent in the first few weeks of recovery. However, sometimes a full recovery does not happen and some people have to live with the life-long effects.
There is no set amount of time an individual is recommended to stay in the hospital for, after having a stroke. The number of nights someone stays in the hospital for will be based on your doctor’s expert opinion, having evaluated the severity, response to treatment and how quickly it takes an individual to get up and moving around. The stroke recovery care process should not be rushed, everybody reacts differently to a traumatic event like a stroke. When in hospital you are surrounded by experienced professionals who will best recommend the next cause of action for you on your road to recovery.
4. Stroke Care
The rehabilitation process after a stroke can be extensive depending on the severity of physical effects incurred as a result of a stroke. With the help of recommended professionals, patients can potentially re-learn necessary skills. Rehabilitation specialists will carry out tests to identify the effects of the stroke:
- Swallowing test: To assess any difficulties eating and drinking.
- Mobility assessment: Whether you have any muscular issues or difficulty moving around.
- Continence assessment: To address any issues you might have going to the toilet.
- Communication and cognitive assessment
- Nutritional and hydration assessment
All of these assessments are put in place for medical professionals to analyse whether there are any troubling issues that need to be addressed and solved, whilst in recovery.
5. How Long Does It Take To Recover From A Stroke?
How long it takes to recover from a stroke will depend on the severity of the attack. Unfortunately, one in eight stroke victims will die within 30 days of having the attack (Stroke Association). However, the quicker the symptoms are recognised, the quicker the treatment can be given and therefore, the higher the chances of survival.
Treatment of a stroke will vary depending on what kind of stroke an individual has suffered, as the more severe a brain injury, the more severe the long-term effects will be. Regardless of the amount and standards of rehabilitation support someone receives, there is no guarantee that the individual will ever recover fully. Therefore, family and friends of those who have suffered a stroke need to be as supportive as possible and aware of the uncertain challenges ahead (Headway, the brain injury association).
6. How To Prevent A Stroke?
We can all help reduce our own and our loved one’s chances of having a stroke by modifying our daily lifestyles, such as:
- Stop smoking
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do more exercise
- Eat less food with high fat, sugar and sodium content
- Do not use illegal drugs
- Reducing cholesterol and blood pressure
“Sometimes the disruption to the blood supply to the brain can be due to natural causes, such as weakening of blood vessels over time or a genetic condition that increases the risk of experiencing a stroke.” (Source: Headway)