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A stroke happens when part of the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. The brain depends on an uninterrupted flow of blood to work, so if the supply is cut, brain cells can be damaged or destroyed.

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Having been very active all my life, my world was turned upside down when I suffered a stroke. When I first contacted the Rehab Physio, I felt lost. I was unable to get out of my chair without the help of my husband. I had been discharged from all services within the NHS. Within a year of being treated at The Rehab Physio, I was able to walk independently and now I can walk to get a bus into town and meet friends. My favourite place in the world is Africa. I always had a dream of returning to Africa, but didn’t think I’d ever return. I am proud to say that I have been on two holidays and a safari tour to Africa in recent years, which I simply could not have done without the help of the team at The Rehab Physio.

Christine Ward

Technically speaking, there are two main types of stroke. One is known Ischaemic, where the flow of blood to the brain is too low, the other is haemorrhagic, where the blood supply is affected by bleeding in or around the brain. ‘Mini strokes’ can also occur, the technical term for these types is transient ischaemic attack (TIA). These are caused by a temporary blockage, and the symptoms only last for a short while.

Why do strokes happen?

In most cases strokes occur because as we age our arteries become harder and narrower, and they’re more at risk of becoming blocked. Some medical conditions and lifestyle factors can increase the risk of stroke.

What are the effects?

On the physical side, stroke can cause weakness in the muscles and related movement and body function problems. Often a stroke will affect one side of the body, but sometimes the weakness may be limited to one arm or leg, for instance. The intensity of muscle weakness can vary, from relatively mild effects to complete paralysis of certain areas of the body. Strokes can cause:

  • Difficulty in walking, including a condition known as ‘foot drop’
  • Reduced ability to use hands and arms
  • Shoulder pain as a result of reduced movement
  • Stiff or tight feeling muscles and weakness in limbs and muscles
  • Problems with mental processes, such as perception, memory and reasoning

Strokes may affect the ability to communicate, and people can struggle with things like speaking, reading, writing and understanding. It’s important to realise that communication difficulties don’t mean the sufferer’s intelligence has been affected.

Of course, all the problems that can occur with strokes usually add up to emotional changes too, as patients often have to come to terms with life-changing conditions.

What can be done in recovery?

In the majority of cases, there will be some recovery from the effects of stroke – the extent of improvement is dependent on many factors, and each case is different. What is certain is that with the treatments, experience and skills of our team at The Rehab Physio, whatever the potential for recovery, we’ll make sure it’s maximised.