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Healthwatch 16: May is Stroke Awareness Month

Here's a quick reminder about recovery from strokes and why it's so important to get help fast.

SCRANTON, Pa. — A stroke occurs when the supply of blood to the brain is reduced or blocked altogether. That deprives the brain of oxygen and other nutrients.

"Stroke is one of the leading causes of functional difficulty for people, and before COVID, was the third leading cause of death. But many people live, and many people still end up having trouble," said Dr. Michael Wolk, the physician director for the stroke rehabilitation program at Allied Services.

Dr. Wolk wanted to kick off this awareness month by pointing out that a few years ago, both the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association updated their guidelines to include recovery recommendations.

"If you have a stroke, that immediately after hospitalization, if you need care, it should be in an inpatient rehab facility with a specialized stroke program," Dr. Wolk said. "We have a belief that during the first one to two months, it's a window of what we call neuroplasticity when the brain actually has the ability to heal itself."

Dr. Wolk says not everyone who has a stroke will need that level of care, but if they do, Allied has an inpatient rehab facility and a specialized program for stroke rehabilitation.

You've heard of FAST: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Slurred speech, Time to call 911.

But in addition, according to Allied, it's important to note that women may experience unique stroke symptoms such as fainting, weakness, shortness of breath, confusion, or even nausea—all things to keep in mind this Stroke Awareness Month.