A stroke is a medical emergency in which the brain’s oxygen supply is cut off leading to brain or motor damage and even death. Of all the risk factors for stroke, head injuries are the most predominant. Head injuries are caused by road accidents, accidental falls and even violence. Even a slight blow or jolt to the head may cause a head injury resulting in a stroke.
Research by the University of Michigan reveals that Traumatic brain injury((TBI) or head injury as it is commonly called has 30% more risk of resulting in a stroke.
India is supposedly the “Head Injury Capital ” of the world with 1.5 to 2 million people suffering head injuries in India. Any of this could result in a stroke. So it is time to understand the signs and symptoms of a stroke and try to help stroke victims by joining in a stroke support program.
Warning signs of a stroke-FAST
A stroke victim requires immediate medical attention as for every wasted untreated minute, the patient’s brain is blocked losing 1.5 million neurons. Knowing the warning signs of a stroke can really help save the life of a stroke victim.
The 4 warning signs of a stroke that are critical can be summarized as the acronym FAST
- F- Face drooping, uneven smile, numbness of face on one side
- A-Arms weakness- inability to raise arms or numbness in one arm
- S- Speech difficulty- slurring speech, incomprehensible speech or inability to speak at all.
- T- Time to call the ambulance or doctor.
Apart from these 4 critical factors, there are other signs and symptoms of a stroke which cannot be ignored.
How can head injuries lead to a stroke?
A Taiwanese research study compared 23,199 brain-injured patients to 65,197 non-affected ones and monitored them for 5 years. Their findings were
- Within 3 months, 2.91% of the TBI patients suffered a stroke compared to 0.30% of the others. This was a ten-fold difference.
- After a year, the risk of stroke reduced but still, the TBI patients had a stroke-risk which was 4.6 times more than the others.
- After 3 years, the risk was 2.3 times more likely for TBI patients to have a stroke than others.
- A person with a fractured skull bone was more at risk of a stroke than the ones whose skull was intact.
- A TBI may damage the blood vessels of the brain, thereby blocking the blood supply to it and lead to a stroke.
How to reduce the incidence of stroke by head injuries?
The only way to prevent the incidence of strokes due to head injuries is to create awareness among individuals of this danger and its lasting effects like vision or memory problems.
The Neurological Society of India initiated a HEADS-We Win Campaign to achieve this where
- H=Helmets Must,
- E=Effective Bystander Response
- A=Alert Pedestrian
- D=Drive Responsibly and
- S=Speed Kills.
This initiative can be taken by Stroke Support Programs organized by hospitals and neurological centres to create awareness on the incidence of stroke due to head injuries.
Stroke Support Programs
A Stroke Support Program is intended to
- increase fundamental awareness on the fatality of strokes
- to educate people to offer timely help in saving victims by recognizing the warning signs of a stroke.
- to lessen the mortality due to deaths in India by timely assistance.
October 29 is the World Stroke Day. Let us strike out stroke due to head injuries by creating awareness and offering timely attention to stroke victims.