Strokes – An Overview
There is a common misconception that strokes are almost formulaic in nature; sort of a one-size-fits-all approach to causes and outcomes. This is actually far from the truth. Here’s a quick anatomy refresher:
Strokes are either ‘ischemic’ in origin (i.e. caused by a blood clot), or ‘hemorrhagic’ (caused by uncontrollable bleeding in the brain). Outcomes of a stroke are dependent on the severity of the stroke and the location of the damage to the brain, both of which can be assessed in an emergency setting using either CT or MRI imaging techniques.
· The cerebrum is divided into the left hemisphere and the right hemisphere. Each hemisphere is divided into portions called ‘lobes’. The effects of a stroke in the cerebrum will be dependent on the lobe(s) affected:
· The frontal lobe is responsible for motor functions and ‘executive functions’, which include reasoning, planning and problem solving, as well as one’s social graces.
· The temporal lobe is involved in speech, memory and auditory perception.
· The parietal lobe is responsible for sensory activities, including receiving and interpreting information from other parts of the body.
· The occipital lobe is located at the back of the head and is responsible for visual processing.
· A stroke that occurs in the cerebellum affects coordination and balance, and often causes dizziness, nausea and vomiting.
· A brain stem stroke, while uncommon, is particularly devastating, since the brain stem controls our involuntary functions such as breathing and heart function, as well as swallowing.
It is important to further differentiate between a stroke and a transient ischemic attack (‘TIA’). A full-blown stroke can certainly be severe enough to render one incapable of making or changing a Will, although some recovery is possible, particularly if formal stroke rehabilitation is actively pursued. In contrast, a transient ischemic attack, as the name suggests, often fully resolves within minutes or hours, although incapacity may still be an issue during the attack. Both a stroke and a TIA are medical emergencies that require assessment and treatment in a medical facility.
Statistics indicate that of every 100 people who suffer a stroke, 10 will recover completely, 15 will die, 25 will recover with a minor impairment and 50 will have a moderate to severe disability, some requiring long term care.
For more information, visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation online.
Jennifer Hartman, Guest Blogger