Brain Stroke and Rehabilitation

Studies by the Public Health Foundation show that stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. People often lack awareness about brain stroke. In most cases, patients disregard early signs of brain stroke and pursue professional help long after the damage is done. Stroke can be prevented by leading a healthy and stress-free life.

Dr. Devi Shetty
Dr. Vikram Huded, Dr. V. R Rao, Dr. Smitha

Understanding Brain Stroke


What should I do if I suffer from stroke?

There are mainly three types of strokes including –

• Ischemic stroke - This is responsible for 80.2% strokes in India. It occurs due to blockage or clot formation in blood vessel of the brain. The obstruction in the blood vessel occurs to due to development of fatty deposits in the linings of blood vessels.

• Hemorrhagic stroke - This is caused by ruptured blood vessels, which lead to bleeding in the brain. Haemorrhagic stroke is responsible for 17.7% strokes in India.

• Transient Ischemic stroke (TIA) - This is also called a mini-stroke and is temporary, caused by the formation of blood clot. This kind of stroke may last for a few minutes or a day, and may show temporary symptoms. The patients should immediately consult a doctor if they observe any signs of TIA.

How I will I know that I have stroke?

The general symptoms include -

• Sudden onset of weakness and numbness in one side of the body including face, hand and leg

• Loss of speech or difficulty in speaking and understanding speech

• Difficulty in swallowing

• Loss of vision or trouble in viewing

• Dizziness and sudden headache

• Loss of balance and lack of coordination

• Vomiting and nausea

• Loss of consciousness

What are the risk factors of stroke?

Indians are genetically prone to stroke due to predominance of metabolic syndrome. The change in lifestyle and socio-economic conditions have increased the stress and altered the food habits, increasing the chances of developing hypertension and diabetics. This has resulted in an increased number of stroke patients in India. The common risk factors include:

• High and uncontrolled blood pressure

• High cholesterol

• Blood disorders and severe anaemia

• Obesity

• Smoking and high consumption of alcohol

• Uncontrolled diabetes

• Consumption of food high in trans-fat

• Heart diseases

• Family history of stroke

• Consumption of recreational drugs such as cocaine

What are the treatment options for stroke?

The treatment depends on the type of stroke - whether it is an ischemic or haemorrhagic stroke. The FDA-approved treatment for ischemic stroke is tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), which is given intravenous and dissolves the clot. This enhances the blood flow to the brain. In case of haemorrhagic stroke, the doctor may perform a surgery and may prescribe medicines to lower the blood pressure. The treatment of TIA can be done through surgical and non-surgical procedures. In surgical procedures, the clot can be removed from the artery and in non-surgical procedures, a stent can be placed in the infected artery through angioplasty.

How to prevent stroke?

The chances of developing a stroke can be prevented by leading a healthy lifestyle, eating fibre-rich diet and exercising. Other steps include –

• Monitoring the blood pressure

• Controlling the blood sugar in case of diabetes

• Quitting smoking

• Decreasing the consumption of alcohol

• Leading a stress-free life

• Getting regular medical check-up in case of family history

What is stroke rehabilitation?

Rehabilitation accelerates the recovery of the stroke patient. There are three stages of rehabilitation including acute, sub-acute and chronic stage. In acute stage, the patient is recovered immediately by removing the clot; in sub-acute and chronic stages, the focus is to improve the functional abilities of the patient so that he/she becomes independent and gets back to normal life.

Physiotherapy, speech and swallowing therapy, clinical therapy and occupational therapy play a vital role in a patient’s recovery. All these therapies help the patients improve their functional, speaking and swallowing abilities. The patient also becomes mentally and emotionally stable and gets confidence to get back into the society.