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What is stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts. Stroke is one of Australia’s biggest killers and a leading cause of adult disability.

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There are two major types of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke

Ischemic stroke is accountable for 80% of all strokes. During an ischemic stroke the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain is blocked. This usually happens because of blood clots in an artery to the brain or a narrowing of the arteries (carotid stenosis) blocking or impeding the blood flow.

In a hemorrhagic stroke, an artery in the brain bursts. There are two main types of hemorrhagic stroke.

An intracerebral hemorrhage happens when a blood vessel in the brain leaks blood into the brain. A subarachnoid hemorrhage happens when there is bleeding under the outer membranes of the brain and into the thin fluid–filled space that surrounds the brain.

This type of hemorrhage can cause extensive damage to the brain and is the most lethal of all strokes.

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How do I know if someone is having a stroke?

The early warning signs of stroke can be remembered via the acronym FAST, which means Face, Arm, Speech (weakness or drooping in these areas) and Time (seek treatment urgently).

Getting to hospital as quickly as possible is vital when faced with a potential stroke, and will help improve the prospect of recovery.

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Rehabilitation and recovery

Many people who have had a stroke are admitted to hospital within an Acute Stroke Unit or Rehabilitation Unit, where they receive expert treatment and rehab from doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and social workers.

The amount of recovery following a stroke depends on the severity of the initial damage. Recovery to the brain is most rapid in the first three to six months after the stroke.

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The aim is to never stop striving for continued progress!

Rehabilitation is ultimately the responsibility of the person who has experienced stroke, and their carer, not just the therapists. In fact the therapists see their job as guiding the person who has had the stroke to live well, independently and with confidence.

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There is always support to help you.

THRFG Stroke provides support, information and assistance to South Australians who have experienced stroke and their carers. Our support groups also aim to promote appropriate services for the treatment and rehabilitation and to increase public awareness of stroke. Many people find that these groups give them back what they thought they would never enjoy again: increased self esteem, fellowship, sense of purpose, pleasure in life and fun.

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