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What is a stroke?

 October 24, 2018 | Simon Jenkins

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, either because of a blood clot or, more rarely, because of a burst blood vessel.

Urgent treatment is essential to limit the extent of the long-term problems this can cause, and to give patients the best chance of regaining their independence. Patients are often treated with medicine to reduce blood clots and relieve pressure that may have built up on the brain. Sometimes surgery will be needed to treat brain swelling and to reduce the risk of further bleeding.

Once the immediate medical crisis has passed, those who have suffered a stroke can face a range of issues, both physical and cognitive, in adjusting to living with the effects of their stroke.

Strokes are the biggest cause of disability in adulthood, and for many, physiotherapy is a key part of the recovery programme to help rebuild neural pathways, so that patients “re-learn” how to send signals from their brain to their hands and arms – and regain all the function which they enjoyed before suffering the stroke.

What is a stroke?