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126436272Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the number one cause for serious disability in the U.S., with over 6 million strokes reported in the U.S. in those 20 and over for 2006, according to the Stroke Center.  If you or a loved one has just had a stroke, this is an emergency.

  • Call 911 immediately, ask where the closest Stroke Medical Center is and follow the directions of the 911 representative. Select hospitals are not designated Stroke Centers.
  • Stroke victims may only have three hours to obtain a t-PA injection, derived from a naturally occurring enzyme in the body, to be at least one third  more likely to recover with little or no disability after 3 months–if they qualify.

It may be wise to be prepared with an emergency prevention plan that may be just as valuable as an evacuation plan in case of fire, tornado or earthquake in the case of stroke.

Your Health Access Alert

  • You may have to let the hospital receptionist  know when your symptoms became apparent so you or your loved one can be rushed in for a quick shot.

174247392Stroke Symptoms and Types

By identifying stroke signs at the onset, which may be subtle, you may receive timely treatment and prevent long term disability.

  • People who have had a stroke may not realize they have stroke symptoms or have had a stroke. This is common in people with brain injuries when the portion of the brain that allows for recognition of symptoms has been impaired due to the neurological damage from stroke or brain injury.

By knowing the different types of strokes, you may help set reasonable expectations for the management of the stroke and the new lifestyle that may be required due recovery, disabilities  and the risk of repeat stroke emergencies. Visit: Stroke Symptoms and Types

174362143Stroke Disabilities and Rehabilitation

Stroke disabilities vary widely. Some stroke disabilities may be minor, while other may compromise daily living skill activities (ADL’s), including:

Inability to brush hair, dress, shower , cook, feed oneself, walk, remember important tasks and more.

Some stroke victims recover very well, typically over a three month period.   Recovery may continue in the months to follow. Other stroke victims recover very well until they are challenged by a subsequent stroke.

Rehabilitation may become an ongoing part of life for a stroke victim for quite some time. Some stroke disabilities only slightly improve, if at all. This makes the focus of rehabilitation on new ways to live and to best manage the disabilities through physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy,  other forms of therapy and perhaps, durable medical supplies and assistive technology aids.

Your Stroke Disability Management Team

At the onset, emergency room personnel and loved ones will be the stroke victim’s disability management team. It is important to note that certain hospitals are designated stroke centers and are best equipped to manage a stroke and may prevent the risk of common long term serious disabilities.

  • Let the hospital know how important it is to you that you identify if you or your loved one is a candidate for the stroke shot very quickly.
  • Support people may stay with the stroke victim in the emergency room, particularly when doctors and nurses are visiting. This is because support people know best what is normal for the stroke victim and may best describe symptoms that the stroke victim may not be likely to be able to communicate accurately. This is called 1) the patient’s baseline and 2) the baseline changes, including subtle symptoms.

Family Team at Hospital and Ongoing

Loved ones need to be part of the support team for a stroke victim. It’s important to work together because stroke victims may present themselves one way to one person; another way to another and may be more highly disabled when they are home alone. Still, many stroke victims tend to recover and compensate better in their own home.

  • Close monitoring by loved ones to identify symptoms and changes in symptoms may vastly improve the quality of life for a stroke victim and family members.
  • Certain disabilities that you or hospital members  may not recognize may create a risk.
  • Stroke victims who are with familiar people and in familiar surroundings may “snap back ” to normalcy much like the arousal that a person experiences when they are awakened by smelling salts.  For a stroke victim, this may be a temporary or permanent awakening.
  • Stroke victims tend to manage life more easily and recovery may be enhanced when surrounded by people they know the most. This includes having  items in their home that they are most accustomed to living with, even the pillow on their bed, their clothing,  and special treasures.

Interdisciplinary Team for Ongoing Management

Ultimately, family, support people, caregivers, neurologists, neurosurgeons, vascular surgeons, internal medicine physicians, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, psychiatrists, psychologists, attorneys, and those who are spiritual may be required to fully manage the outcome of a stroke over the long term.

Insurance, Medical and Long Term Care Policies

Medical insurance coverage varies, depending upon the limits, caps and exclusions in your policy. HMO insurance policies tend to be more restrictive in terms of offering strong support for ongoing rehabilitation needs, when compared to a select number of Preferred Provider Networks (PPO).  This is a consideration given that the risk of subsequent stroke and serious disability may be high over a lifetime. Rehabilitation is an opportunity to enhance recovery and quality of life for those with the risk of recurrent strokes. To offset out-of-pocket costs, there are long term care insurance plans which are highly recommended by independent insurance representatives, given the health access climate.Variations in long term care policies may include:

  • Type of coverage,such as the number of times permissible for rehab and extent of services.
  • Availability to choose your own medical providers and caregivers or the requirement to use their providers.
  • When payments are made.
  • Coverage for costs in long term care facilities, such as assisted living and nursing homes.

Insurance is important when out-of-pocket costs due to lack of long-term care insurance may escalate to $10,000 within two weeks of the stroke in serious cases, particularly if the stroke victim is located out of state and must be transported to a loved one for close monitoring.

It is important to recognize that all information contained on this website cannot be considered to be specific medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or medical advice. As always, you should consult with a physician regarding any medical condition. Your Health Access disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.