Stroke is a medical condition that arises due to 'the interruption of the blood supply to the brain, usually because a blood vessel bursts or is blocked by a clot. This cuts off the supply of oxygen and nutrients, causing damage to the brain tissue' (WHO website, 2018). It is crucial that the individual that undergoes a stroke must be taken to the hospital as early as possible. Any damage to the brain could become permanent if untreated in the first 3 hours since the occurrence of the symptoms of stroke.
Stroke is identified equivalent to “Pakshaghata” in Ayurveda due to the similarities in the clinical presentations in the patients. Modern medicine is now well equipped in managing acute stroke when compared to past decades. But post-stroke rehabilitation is still a hectic challenge for all medical systems and integrated approach is clinically proved to be successful when compared to the results produced by each medicinal system.
According to the cause of the stroke, it can be classified into two:
1) Ischemic, because of the lack of blood flow.
2) Haemorrhagic, due to bleeding within the skull or the brain.
Signs & Symptoms:
A stroke can occur gradually or suddenly, and that's the reason why most symptoms of stroke are noticeable only after it has occurred. In some cases, a stroke can be preceded by a mini-stroke, which should be taken equally seriously.
The common signs of stroke can be spotted using a FAST test.
- Face: Smile and see if one side of the smile/face droops down.
- Arms: Raise your arms and see if one arm drops down.
- Speech: Check for slurred or strange speech while speaking phrases.
- Time: If any of the above happens, note the time it started and get to the hospital immediately.
Each minute matters when it comes to a stroke - some of the other signs include:
- Numbness or weakness that is focused on one side of the body
- Difficulty understanding people
- Troubled vision and speech
- Severe causeless headache
- Difficulty walking and balancing
- A general impairment of bodily functions
Certain body functions become impaired immediately after a stroke. The most common impairments are improper functions of sensory & motor organs of the body (eg: variable findings in gaze, visual field defects, loss of taste perception, impaired linguistic skills, impaired speech, hearing loss, difficulty in swallowing, spasticity of upper limbs & lower limbs, loss of memory, disorientation, attention, intellectual & psychosocial deficits, etc). Other associated issues often stroke patients face are like irregular bowel movements, incontinence, sleep disturbances and joint related issues.
Treatments and Rehabilitation:
Common Ayurveda Treatments
(The treatments mentioned are indicative and the treatment plan will vary from person to person as these are procedures to be done under medical supervision).
Depending upon the site of stroke and symptoms the rehabilitative programme has to be tailored for each. By judicially in cooperating the modern rehabilitative techniques with time-proven Ayurvedic interventions makes the programme a near perfect one.
Along with the conventional post-stroke care (Medications and Physiotherapy), Ayurveda treatments and medicines gives a faster recovery. The treatment procedure is selected according to the cause of stroke, residual deficits (physical, functional, psychological, etc), the body constitution, co-morbidities, tolerance, etc.
Impairments resulting from stroke are variable depending on the location, severity and duration of injury to brain structures. There are various mechanisms proposed to explain the clinically observed phenomenon of spontaneous recovery of neurological functioning. This is possible by
(i) the resolution of local harmful factors ie by resolution of local swelling in the affected areas and areas adjacent to it and by the elimination of local toxins and recovery of partially damaged ischemic neurons.
(ii) By facilitating the favourable conditions to brain tissue to overcome the brain damage by its own ability often referred to as neuroplasticity - this can take place early or late after brain damage.
Ayurveda treatments and medicines along with the present-day rehabilitative methodologies make tailoring of best patient specific rehabilitative programs possible and thus helps in recovery of stroke patients as it fulfils the limbs needed for facilitating mechanisms explained above.
Our team comprises of vastly experienced Ayurveda Physicians, Neurologists, Physiatrists, Orthopaedicians, dedicated Physiotherapists, Occupational and Speech therapists, Nurses, Therapists, and other paramedical staff which make it a holistic one. As we know the manifestations of and functional recovery from stroke are highly variable with respect to impairment (physiology), activities (disability), participation (handicap) and quality of life and our team will provide the very best to help your dear ones.
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