F.A.S.T: Identifying someone having symptoms of a stroke
When you suspect a stroke, remember “F.A.S.T” this acronym will help you identify symptoms of a stroke and possibly reduce the damage that can be caused by a stroke.
F – FACE. If you notice drooping of the face. Their smile is drooping, or an eyelid is sagging. This is a sign of a stroke
A-ARMS. If you suspect a stroke ask them to raise their arms; if one is drooping, this could be a sign of a stroke.
S – SPEECH. Ask them to repeat a simple phrase; “the grass is green” if they cannot repeat the phrase, they could be suffering from a stroke.
T – TIME. Time is of the essence. If you see any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately!
WAYS TO SUPPORT A LOVED ONE WHO HAS SUFFERED A STROKE
After a stroke, families might be concerned about the effects and how they can cause changes for themselves and their loved ones.
There are many ways to help families adjust to the needs of the loved one who has suffered a stroke. Here are some ideas to help with this transition;
- After a stroke, a loved one can have intense emotional reactions. Remind yourself that these reactions are due to having a stroke. Practice patience, and don’t be too upset by them.
- Stay in contact with your loved one who has had a stroke. Support from the family is important to their recovery. Visit with them and actively participate in their recovery.
- Continue to care for yourself. Staying healthy is important for both you and your loved one. When you are healthy you can better care for a loved one who is recovering from a stroke.
- Remind yourself that you are a valuable part of the recovery process.
- Support and encouragement during rehabilitation are essential to a positive recovery. Keep your loved one participating in the decisions regarding his or her rehab program.
- The Family can attend rehab sessions. You can learn what your loved one is working on and help them practice these skills.
- Avoid doing too much. Find what the person is able to do on their own and allow them to continue performing these tasks independently.
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Rehabilitation begins as soon as possible. Most times, rehab starts while your loved one is still in the hospital. Those who prove to be stable can begin the rehabilitation program as quickly as two days post-stroke. After your loved one is released from the hospital, rehabilitation should continue as needed.
Depending on how severe the stroke is, options for rehabilitation can include:
- A unit in the hospital that provides inpatient therapy
- A subacute care unit
- Therapy can be done in the home
- Outpatient therapy
- At a facility that provides long-term therapy and skilled home care, professionals
Rehabilitation provides support that improves the survivors’ abilities and functions so that they can be as independent as possible after the stroke. Relearning basic skills such as walking, bathing and eating can be daunting. By preserving a stroke survivor’s dignity and continuing to motivate them, rehabilitation can help them regain their independence.
Heading home after a stroke can make survivors and their families uneasy. Think about setting up a time with an occupational therapist (OT) to come to the home and help prepare a safe environment for your loved one. OTs are trained to help families and survivors manage daily activities and are knowledgeable in ways to help survivors achieve their independence.
Making a few changes can go a long way in creating a safe environment for those who are post-stroke. Some suggested changes include;
- Improve balance by strengthening your leg muscles
- Wear flat, non-stick shoes
- Eating calcium-rich foods and taking calcium supplements to increase bone strength if necessary.
- Follow the recommendations of your therapist.
- Always use your prescribed walking devices and do not depend on furniture to support yourself when walking.
- Know which medicines make you drowsy and take precautions when taking these medications.
- Clear pathways to the most traveled rooms like the bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen.
- For improved traction, eliminate runners and loose carpets from stairways and hallways. Fastening them down with tape is an alternative option to removing them.
- Installing handrails can provide extra support for going up and down stairs
- Installation of a raised toilet seat
- Place a chair or stool in the shower
- A shower head that’s handled
- secure a plastic mat to the shower floor or tub.
- Opt for electric razors and toothbrushes
Follow the advice of your home care professionals and always air on the side of safety. Regaining independence can take a while so remember to be patient. The road to recovery can be tough, but a healthy and happy life post-stroke can be achieved with continued support.