A stroke occurs when there is a loss of blood flow to any part of the brain, causing tissue damage in that area. This can occur in two ways: blockage of a blood vessel due to a clot (ischemic stroke), or bleeding into brain tissue due to a broken or ruptured artery (hemorrhagic stroke).

Signs and symptoms of a stroke will vary greatly depending on which area of the brain it occurs in, but some more common symptoms are: slurred speech or trouble swallowing, loss of sensation or strength on one side of the body, difficulty with coordination and balance, or changes in memory and cognition. These symptoms may be transient or persistent, depending on the extent of the damage to the brain.

Nearly all individuals with a stroke will require medical attention, and many stroke survivors may require some form of rehabilitation to help address the deficits caused by the stroke. Lowering your risk for a stroke can be achieved through lifestyle modification targeting factors such as increased blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, cigarette smoking, stress, and lack of physical activity.

Rehabilitation for a stroke can include exercises targeted at retraining balance, walking, use of the upper arm, body awareness, memory/cognition and speech. It is important to know that our brains are adaptable and can change (neuroplastic), even after a stroke. Our brains learn what we practice, therefore targeted rehabilitation exercises can help the brain learn new ways to move and function.

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