Stroke In Patients With An Existing Disability

A stroke is a sudden onset illness during which the brain is injured due to a lack of blood supply. It can occur in any person regardless of age.

A stroke can be especially difficult to diagnose, and recover from, in patients who already had an existing disability.

However, regardless of previous diagnoses, the goal for rehabilitation is the same: to encourage a return to the daily life the patient enjoyed before the stroke, with as much independence as possible.

Why Strokes Happen

Strokes occur when the blood supply to an area of the brain is interrupted, leading to a lack of oxygen, which in turn causes brain injury. The blood flow to the brain may become disrupted by a clot becoming lodged in a blood vessel (an ischaemic stroke), or a blood vessel leaking (haemorrhagic).

There is no one definite cause of strokes, but there are a number of factors that can increase a person’s risk:

– High blood pressure
– High cholesterol
– Being overweight
– Drinking alcohol to excess
– Smoking
– Having a disease or illness which affects the heart or circulatory system

When a disabled person suffers a stroke, their medical team will investigate whether it was caused by a worsening of an existing medical condition, and if so, what treatment needs to be undertaken.

Stroke Symptoms

If the patient has an existing disability that affects their speech, coordination or mobility, the occurrence of stroke may be difficult to spot.

Typical symptoms include:

– Slurring of words, or any difficulty talking or swallowing
– A lack of strength down one side of the body
– Loss of balance or coordination
– Problems with vision, such as loss of peripheral vision

If the patient’s existing disability already caused any of these symptoms, carers should take note of any exacerbation of them.

Stroke Recovery in Disabled Persons

Since a stroke can affect any part of the brain, there is no uniform way in which patients are affected. Following a stroke every patient will have their recovery and rehabilitation needs assessed, whether they had an existing disability or not.

It is important that a carer, friend or relative, who was familiar with the patient’s abilities and personal needs before the stroke, is on hand to consult with the medical team. They can pass on information that will help the team establish what the patient’s capabilities and difficulties were, so that they may understand which symptoms have been caused by the stroke, and which are longer term, and draw up a realistic recovery plan.

The goals of stroke recovery in disabled patients are the same as for everyone else – to return to and enjoy their day to day life.

Ideally the patient will recover to the level of independence they enjoyed before the stroke event. This may not be entirely possible, but with the help of specialist equipment such as stairlifts, and hoists, and smaller handy gadgets, like shaped bowls, and easy grip utensils the patient will be able to accomplish much on their own. As suggested by Acorn Stairlifts, an elderly or disabled patient may benefit from the installation of a Personal Emergency System, where they can call for help by pressing a button on a pendant.

While the patient follows the rehabilitation programme designed by their medical team, it is important that their existing disability is well managed. Their consultant should assess the impact that the stroke has had on their condition, and may need to make adjustments to medication, physiotherapy programmes and / or mobility equipment provided.

Psychological Recovery from Stroke

Stroke In Patients With An Existing DisabilityIt is perfectly normal for stroke patients to suffer from anxiety or depression. If these feelings persist, medication may be necessary to help the patient feel better. Returning to the activities they had previously enjoyed will help speed up the patient’s physical and emotional recovery, and is an important step in preserving their identity and raising their self-esteem.

This guest post was written by stairlifts advice, manufacturer and installation experts, Acorn Stairlifts.

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