Home Lifestyle National Stroke Week: Rehabilitation and recovery tips after a stroke

National Stroke Week: Rehabilitation and recovery tips after a stroke

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In South Africa, stroke is a significant health concern, with an estimated 132,000 strokes occurring annually, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa. It is the third leading cause of death in the country and a major cause of adult disability.

According to the South African Medical Journal, stroke is among the top 10 leading causes of disability in SA. Picture: Kampus Production/Pexels

NATIONAL Stroke Week in South Africa serves as a reminder of the importance of stroke awareness, prevention, and effective rehabilitation. It is a leading cause of disability worldwide, requires comprehensive care and support to aid in recovery.

According to the South African Medical Journal, stroke is among the top 10 leading causes of disability in SA, and accounts for 25,000 deaths annually and 95,000 years lived with disability.

This huge burden of stroke hampers socio-economic development as a result of years lived with disability.

Understanding stroke and its impact in South Africa

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted, leading to a lack of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in brain cell damage. It can lead to various physical, cognitive and emotional impairments.

Stroke is a significant health concern, with a considerable burden on individuals, families, and healthcare systems.

In South Africa, it is a significant health concern, with an estimated 132,000 strokes occurring annually, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa. It is the third leading cause of death in the country and a major cause of adult disability.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation further states that 80% of heart disease and strokes can be prevented. More alarmingly, 225 South Africans are killed by heart diseases every day including stroke.

Immediate medical attention is beyond crucial in the event of a stroke. Acting quickly can help minimise brain damage and improve diagnosis and treatment outcomes.

Rehabilitation and recovery

South Africa has made strides in improving stroke care, with the establishment of stroke units in various hospitals across the country.

However, many people living with the effects of stroke in rural or remote settings are prevented from accessing rehabilitation for many reasons – for instance, lack of knowledge about stroke and rehabilitation, lack of safe or affordable transport, long distances (and time), often on rough terrain, to travel to consult a healthcare provider and/or availability of evidence-based rehabilitation, according to the chapter published in the National Library of Medicine titled collaborative capacity development to complement stroke rehabilitation in Africa.

In South Africa, access to physical rehabilitation services is crucial, and efforts are being made to improve availability and affordability.

For instance, FAST (Face, Arms, Speech and Time), which is endorsed and sponsored by the World Stroke Organization is a well-known and successful technique for recognizing the signs of a stroke and promoting quick action.

Research indicates that public awareness initiatives, such as the FAST program, have enhanced the identification of stroke symptoms. At least thirty percent more stroke victims arrive at the hospital within the suggested time range as a result of awareness initiatives.

Rehabilitation plays a crucial role in helping stroke survivors regain independence, improve their quality of life, and maximise their functional abilities.

The recovery process is unique to each individual and may involve the following tips:

To ensure safe recovery a team of multidisciplinary healthcare professionals such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists, and psychologists are crucial for full stroke rehabilitation.

These professionals work together to address physical, cognitive and emotional challenges faced by stroke survivors.

Physical rehabilitation

Physical therapy focuses on restoring strength, coordination, balance, and mobility. It often includes exercises and techniques tailored to individual needs and abilities.

Occupational therapy

Occupational therapy aims to enhance daily living activities, such as dressing, cooking, and bathing. It involves relearning skills and adapting the environment to accommodate physical limitations.

Occupational therapists in South Africa play a vital role in facilitating functional recovery.

Speech and language therapy

Speech and language therapy addresses communication difficulties, including speech impairments and language comprehension issues. It also helps with swallowing difficulties, which can be common after a stroke. Access to speech therapy services is crucial for stroke survivors in South Africa.

Emotional support

Stroke recovery can be emotionally challenging for both survivors and their families. Psychological support and counselling can help manage emotions, cope with changes, and facilitate adjustment to the new normal. Support groups and community organisations.

For more detailed information on stroke rehabilitation and recovery, explore the following reputable sources:

South African Stroke Society

Their website provides valuable resources, including information on stroke, support groups, and awareness campaigns.

As part of its mandate, the Heart and Stroke Foundation South Africa provides useful resources on stroke rehabilitation and recovery, as well as educating the public about heart disease and stroke prevention.

It’s important to seek appropriate medical care, engage in rehabilitation programs, and embrace a healthy lifestyle, so stroke survivors can improve their overall well-being.

National Stroke Week in South Africa serves as a reminder of the importance of stroke prevention, treatment and support.

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