Act FAST: What To Look For In A Stroke

A stroke is a sudden interruption of the blood supply to the brain. The most common cause of stroke is a blockage of the arteries running to the brain. This type of stroke is called an ischemic stroke. Another form of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke, which is caused when a blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the brain.

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Each year, more than 795,000 people in the U.S. suffer from a stroke. Stroke is a major cause of long-term disability. It reduces mobility in more than 50%of stroke survivors over the age of 65. FAST is an acronym to help people remember the early warning signs of a stroke. Each letter of the word stands for a sign of stroke.

Face

When a stroke victim smiles, one side of the face droops down.

Arms

When a person who has had a stroke raises their arms, one drifts downward.

Speech

The speech will be slurred in a person who has had a stroke.

Time

Time is of the essence and once these signs are visible 911 should be called immediately.

Stroke after FAST

Rehabilitation should begin as soon as possible after a stroke. It has a number of different aspects including regaining motor skills using strengthening and coordinating exercises, speech therapy, mobility training with walking aids, range of motion therapy to help regain range of motion and reduce spasticity and psychological therapy. Another rehabilitation technique is the use of functional electrical stimulation to help with relearning to use weakened muscles.

How electrical stimulation works

Electrical stimulation can help to strengthen the muscles and increase the flow of blood to tissues. Because it causes the muscles to contract it can provide a form of passive stretching over a long period of time; this helps to strengthen the muscle and also increase the range of movement. Electrical stimulation can also help to stimulate spastic muscles. It also has a relaxing and strengthening effect. Another important application of electrical stimulation is for the re-education of muscle movement.

When mild electrical stimulation is applied to muscle tissue, it produces a range of sensations including direct sensations from the muscle, joints, and tendons, stimulation of motor neurons and neural activity in the brain’s cortex. The stimulation will make it easier for the patient to produce a voluntary contraction of the muscle along with the electrical pulse. Over time, this form of therapy can help a patient to strengthen muscles.

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