SOMC Rehab: Learn About Stroke Before It Strikes

The staff of Southern Ohio Medical Center encourages community members to learn about the risk of stroke before it strikes.

“The longer it takes to receive medical treatment during a stroke, the more brain damage a person tends to have,” Regina Keller, nurse manager of Inpatient Rehab at SOMC, said. “That’s why it’s so important to act immediately and call 911 if you think you may be dealing with any symptom associated with stroke.”

A stroke is a sudden interruption in the blood supply of the brain, caused by blocked arteries or broken blood vessels. This causes brains cells to die, leading to brain damage and the loss of speech, movement and/or memory.

Warning symptoms include a numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; trouble speaking or confusion and lack of understanding; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance and coordination; and severe headache with no known cause.

“Fewer than one in five people can recognize the warning signs that suggest a stroke is about to occur,” Keller said. “Most of the patients we treat have no idea that what was happening to them was out of the ordinary until it was too late.”

Stroke can occur due to any number of factors including age, gender and a previous family history of the disease. High blood pressure, cholesterol, heart rate and diabetes also increase the likelihood of experiencing a stroke.

In the case of 58-year-old Glenda Powell, even months after her Jan. 10 battle with the disease, she’s still not aware of the symptoms she suffered prior to her attack.

“She was working at the VA Clinic in Chillicothe when it happened,” Amy Powell, Glenda’s daughter and Inpatient Rehab nurse at SOMC, said. “Some of the staff found her lying on the floor by the stairs and immediately called to get help.”

After rushing Glenda to the hospital, it was determined that she had suffered from a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel bursts inside the brain. This releases blood, damaging nearby tissue and causing a severe amount of damage.

Powell says she was told her mother may never wake up, let alone walk or talk again. But after months of inpatient rehab and strength training exercises at SOMC, Glenda has regained her ability to speak and move and will be going home at the end of this month.

“She can’t walk on her own, but she’s definitely capable of talking, eating and all the things they thought she’d never do again,” Powell said. “Things may never be as perfect as they were before the stroke, but we’re hopeful that with patience and practice, it’ll continue to get there.”

Belinda Diles, unit program director of Inpatient Rehab at SOMC, says the inpatient rehab staff also has set personal goals to continue the stroke education and training they have been receiving over the past year.

“We want to provide our patients with the resources they need after suffering a stroke,” Diles said. “In learning more about stroke awareness, we hope to further the quality care we provide to our patients, as well as our path to becoming the leading provider of stroke rehabilitation services in our area.” For more information on stroke awareness, visit www.americanheart.org.