Friday 20 February 2009

Checklist for the onset of a Stroke: FAST .... F for Face, A = for arms, S = Speech, T = Time

Dear Mr Postman .. thank you for coming today .. ah I see you're bringing us some essential information - important for us all to know about ...

Today .. I thought perhaps I'd give some gentle reminders of what happens when a stroke starts and how we can all help our loved ones by reacting extremely quickly - even if we are laymen, as I am. I saw the BBC News clip at the time & thought I'd like to share it with you .. so here's the article if you are interested to read more ..

Obviously old age stroke is probably unavoidable .. but so many younger people have strokes or brain surges (that's not the correct term ... but I hope you'll understand what I mean in the context) .. as we experienced in the Acute Brain Injury Unit in London - in our 4 months - most stays are 6 weeks or so - we had a 21 year old, a 26 year old (who died tragically once she'd got home to France), two +/- 40 year olds, a 52 year old (who could not speak English - & whose stroke left her unable to speak) .. so even in our 6 bed ward .. the % of younger people was incredibly high. So please read the BBC article above - for your own edification.

Fast Stroke Test: This is from the above BBC site ... F A S T - react to these symptoms:
  • FACE - Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

  • ARMS - Can they raise both arms and keep them there?

  • SPEECH - Is their speech slurred?

  • TIME - call the ambulance .. if you see any single one of these signs

It is better to be safe than sorry ....

However - there is a bright side .. & even I've experienced this with my mother .. the brain does heal itself amazingly .. there will be improvement over two years certainly .. probably not completely - but things do get better: a positive story.

The most important thing that I've taken cognizance of as far as care is concerned .. is that stroke victims need to sleep & the body sorts itself out when it needs to get active (wake up) .. often in a very short burst & then a long long sleep period - the bursts of wakefulness will get longer, and obviously the sleep patterns will change and become more normal. So as soon as the medical matters have been clarified and discharge can happen .. then, if possible, get the patient home & let them slowly recover in their own time frame .. don't push them too much. They'll never be completely the same .. but the rest and recovery will help them enormously.

I'll do some more notes like this .. that I hope everyone will find enlightening - even if only in a general overview way ..

Dear Mr Postman - thank you for this letter .. and I'm glad you think that these notes will be helpful to others ..

Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters


Peter Baca said...


Very interesting story about the stroke unit! I am very aware of older people that have strokes typically older people. The younger people having strokes kind of surprised me! Definitely information that everyone should know!

My mother had a major stroke over twenty years ago, she was 58 years old at that time. She was paralized on the entire left side of her body. As you outlined, the brain can heal itself. He went on to live until the age of seventy eight.

The positive part to this is that she fully recovered from her stroke. She did have to do physical therapy - most of it she did herself. But she regained complete use of the the side that the stroke impacted.

So having a stroke does not mean that a person has to accept that they will be permanently impaired or impact their longevity.

Thanks you for your "Positive Letters"

Anonymous said...

Hi Hilary
Thank you for the information on stoke. A closed friend of my's mother had a stroke not to long ago. So I did learn a little bit from that. And your post just taught me so much more.
Thank you
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete - thank you: the ABIU is the major centre for researching brains and the disease that affect them .. eg strokes, tumours, CJD and BSE - mad cow disease - and is part of the University College Hospital of London Primary Care Trust .. it includes Great Ormond Street Children's Hospital - perhaps that is better known?

I'm so pleased to hear that your mother had another long life ahead of her after her strokes.

It offers hope for the future - albeit with some adjustments.

Many thanks for your positive comment.

Hilary: Be Positive Be Happy

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Gio .. it is something I've learnt from my mother's experience .. a) just having some overview idea - so that we can immediately realise what's happening; & b) how as family members we can help by our approach to ill people .. - these ideas I'll touch on later.

Thanks so much for your comment and for your appreciation of the situation as you've recently experienced heard of something similar.