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Missouri Survivor Highlights Rehabilitation Focus of World Stroke Day

American Stroke Association highlights importance of rehabilitation after stroke.

World Stroke Day was this week, on October 29, and the American Stroke Association wants stroke survivors to know that stroke can be beatable. Rehabilitation is key to achieving and celebrating all the small victories along the way to recovery.

Stroke survivor, Linda Smith, knows firsthand the benefits of rehabilitation after stroke. 

The Springfield native was just 55 when she had a stroke. While attending her granddaughter’s baseball game, she experienced dizziness and blurred vision. Since she was heading out of town that day to celebrate her 21st wedding anniversary with her husband, she went to the ER to make sure nothing serious was wrong. She did not realize the gravity of the situation until she heard “Stroke Alert” coming from the hospitals loud-speakers and noted the flurry of activity that surrounded her. 

Thankfully, Linda was quickly administered the clot-busting drug tPA, or tissue plasminogen activator. 

Of her stroke, Linda remarked “Feeling like I was not in control of my own body was one of the scariest parts. I learned to acknowledge and recognize my progress, no matter how small it seemed at the time, as I worked toward what my new normal would be as a stroke survivor. Having a stroke changed the way I live my life; I know that tomorrow is not promised and that each new day is a gift. I choose to live all of my days to the fullest, to be my healthiest self and to cherish the time I am here to spend with family and friends.”

Linda was the featured survivor at the 2018 Springfield Heart Ball, where they shared her story via a touching video.

Strokes don’t discriminate. They can happen to anyone, at any age – and about one in four people worldwide will have one in their lifetime. However, stroke is largely beatable through high-quality rehabilitation and patient support and implementation of the Association’s Rehabilitation Guidelines.

“Rehabilitation is key to recovery after stroke,” said Missouri family nurse practitioner, Jacki Addington. “But up to a third of people who have a stroke do not participate in a rehab program.”

Each person’s stroke recovery needs are different. The effects of a stroke may mean that the survivor must change, relearn or redefine how they live. Stroke rehabilitation can help patients build their strength, capabilities and confidence, potentially regaining skills and returning to independent living. Services may include: self-care skills, mobility skills, communication skills, cognitive skills or social skills. Rehab can also help patients better manage other conditions they have, which may affect daily living or their risk for a second stroke.

“Stroke recovery begins the moment you suspect a stroke,” said Addington. “The sooner a person can be treated for stroke, the more likely they are to have a successful outcome.” She advises everyone to be ready to act FAST if they suspect a stroke.

The acronym F.A.S.T. stands for:

Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.”

Time to Call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital immediately. (Tip: Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.)

Keep blood pressure in mind and under control.

High blood pressure is the no. 1 controllable risk factor for stroke. Work with your doctor to manage it.  

Missourians can participate in World Stroke day by using #NoMOStrokes on their social channels. For more information on stroke and World Stroke Day,