Strokes and brain injury

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There are other ways of damaging the brain other than a traumatic brain injury. One of the main ones is a stroke. We know that 80% of strokes could actually be prevented, and that's by making the right lifetime changes. We should all keep our cholesterol as low as possible, under four. We should have that checked regularly to make sure it's not getting any higher. We should also make sure that our blood pressure is under control. High blood pressure is also a cause of stroke, as is an irregular heartbeat. A stroke is caused by one of two ways; it's either a clot going up to the brain or the brain haemorrhaging. Both are called strokes even though some people think a brain haemorrhage is different, it's still a stroke. It would mean that oxygen is not getting to the brain so those neurons die. We see the same symptoms as we would with somebody with traumatic brain injury; communication problems, left side in neglect, not being able to mobilize, not knowing who people are.

We give the same rehab as we would to somebody with traumatic brain injury, so they can make the same recovery. We can recognize a stroke in a number ways; it could be blurred vision, it could be a loss of speech, left side weakness, arms being weak, not being able to lift their arms above the head, face drooping, mouth drooping, not being able to smile, someone vomiting. It can be that someone's been perfectly well, and maybe got up to turn the television off, and then appears to be drunk. They're not drunk, they're having a stroke. Medical emergency. We need to act fast. In fact, the Stroke Society has said, "Act FAST. Face, Arms, Smile, Time to act." It's important that the three nines are hit immediately, and that paramedics are told that you suspect a stroke. That person needs to get into a hospital as quickly as possible.

There is a time limit, if it's a clot, that paramedics and medics can give clot-busting medication, or they can go in and remove the clot. We know that by removing a clot is actually better than giving medication, but that needs to happen quickly if there are to be best results. If someone's left, you lose more of that person. Billions of neurons die every second, and every minute that someone's left, it's time crucial. We can prevent a stroke by being physically active, by having a healthy lifestyle, lots of fruit and vegetables, not eating lots of fat and sugar, by being mindful, not having too much stress, and having lots of sleep. We know that when we're asleep, the brain will mop up all the plaques in the tangles. So, sleep is important. We also know that a stroke can happen to anyone at any time. It can happen to babies in the womb. It can happen to children, it can happen to young people. We tend to think that a stroke is just for older people, but a significant number of people under the age of 65 actually experience a stroke.