Stroke is a cerebrovascular disease caused by decreased or obstructed blood flow.

It is also known as Cerebral Vascular Accident(CVA).

Symptoms of stroke

Strokes are usually sudden onset and rapid in development, and can cause brain damage in just a few minutes.

Depending on the brain area affected, many different symptoms can occur.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, slurred speech or understanding.
  • Sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Paralysis of the right or left side of the body.
  • Problems with speech or language.
  • Cautious attitude, slowed down style of behaviour.
  • Loss of memory.
  • Vision problems.
  • Inquisitive accelerated behaviour.
thrombo-embolic stroke

Example of thrombo-embolic stroke

Types of stroke

They are classified into two types, according to the time of establishmentand according to the cause.

According to the time

  • T.I.A. (Transient Ischemic Attack):generally occurs due tohigh blood pressure and full recovery usually occurs within 48 hours of the stroke, provided a prompt medical intervention. Indicative conditions of an ischemic stroke occur over a short period of time, and solve themselves through natural mechanisms or with medication. It is a strong indicator of a stroke, so when it occurs, measures must be taken to avoid a more serious attack.
  • Established Stroke: This is when the process is maintained over time, the more important the stroke is, the longer the stroke will last and the worse the after-effects may be.

Depending on the cause

  • Ischemic Stroke:The arterial blood vessels are obstructed inside. The clots that cause the problem are called cerebral thrombus or cerebral embolism.
    • Thrombotic: a clot that develops in the brain blood vessel itself.
    • Embolic: the clot develops in another part of the body. A portion of the clot breaks off and travels through the bloodstream until it finds a smaller vessel and blocks it.
  • Haemorrhagic Stroke: The vessel breaks, causing blood to flow into the brain. As it enters, the blood compresses the brain tissue. . This can be due to intrinsic factors, such as abnormalities in the blood vessel walls. This makes them so weak that they break. Also due to traumatic situations, such as serious accidents or blows, having impact on the skull.

Risk factors for stroke

Risk factors are only variables that can further, as its name suggests, a risk of suffering a stroke.

Not presenting any of the factors or fulfilling 6 or 7 of them, does not necessarily mean suffering or not from ictus.

There are factors that cannot be controlled, however, most of them can be modified or treated.


Non-modifiable factors

  • Sex: the incidence is similar in both sexes
  • Race and family heritage
  • Diabetes
  • Previous stroke
  • Carotid diseases

Modifiable factors

  • Arterial Hypertension
  • Smoking
  • Arterial diseases
  • Heart disease
  • Alcohol
  • Drugs
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Birth Control Pills

Treatment of stroke

Treatment of the stroke should be started as soon as the problem is stabilised, as soon as possible and in a multidisciplinary way.

The faster the start of rehabilitation, the better the results.

The professionals who should accompany a hemiplegic patient are, depending on the severity and the evaluation of the neurologist, the following:

  • Physiotherapist
  • Speech therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Psychologist
  • Podiatrist
  • Nutritionist

First, a full assessment by the physiotherapist should be made to determine the patient’s disabilities and needs.

The recovery of each patient will be determined by the existing brain injury and by some other factors such as age, previous health, etc.

The objectives of the treatment will be short, medium and long term and will vary according to the evolution of each patient, under the constant supervision of the physiotherapist.

Objectives of Physiotherapy Rehabilitation

  • Family counsellingto find out how to deal with a stroke patient.
  • Learning how to use a wheelchair and other equipment.
  • Preparing the patient to sit and stand up as soon as possible by using specific techniques.
  • Stimulating balance and coordination.
  • Preparation for walking.
  • Stimulation and work for the affected arm.
  • Improvement of lung function.
  • Rehabilitation for walking.
  • Stimulation of muscle groupson the affected side to be able to support the weight exercised when taking the step

In these cases, the main priority of a physiotherapist is to try to make the patient as independent as possible and return, as soon as possible, to the daily activities of his or her life.

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PhysiotherapyStroke, what is it? Symptoms, treatment and risk factors