Sunday, January 6, 2013

Part One - Mr. Johnson’s Amazing Stroke Recovery


By Chuck Jones

Here we are into 2013 already. Today, I am starting a two part series based on an article written by Jan Jahnel RN, CNRN who is the Chief Stroke Nurse Coordinator for INI Comprehensive Stroke Center at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, 530 N. E. Glen Oak Avenue, Peoria, IL  61637. She wrote this in response to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center being certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission, an independent, not-for-profit organization; The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.

I have taken her article and, with her permission, I have reorganized it to make it this two part series.  

By doing this, I hope to impress upon you the necessity of learning the symptoms of a stroke and the urgency to act immediately after detection.

I urge you to add this to your New Year's resolutions list.


Part One - Mr. Johnson’s Amazing Stroke Recovery

Mr. Johnson’s Event 

Wednesday morning, while working on his farm equipment, Mr. Johnson suddenly lost the use of his left arm and leg and sank down to the ground.  He could not get up.  He yelled for help but realized his words were slurred.   His son, who was nearby, came to help.  He discovered that his father had a droopy left face, was paralyzed on the left side and he immediately called 911.  Mr. Johnson was brought to OSF Saint Francis Medical Center emergency department in Peoria, Illinois and was quickly diagnosed as experiencing a devastating stroke.  The blood vessel sending blood to the right side of his brain was blocked by a clot! Fortunately he was taken to the right place, a comprehensive stroke center.  The emergency room physician, nurses and the stroke team wasted no time, knowing that every second counts in order to save his brain and his life.  A CT scan of Mr. Johnson’s brain was quickly done and reviewed.  The stroke team then knew this was due to a clot causing stroke. Four days later, he was discharged to his home with complete recovery from his stroke. 

[Let me interrupt Jan’s article here for a moment. Mr. Johnson’s son was able to do something remarkable, yet simple, that all of us need to be able to do, and that is to recognize the symptoms of stroke. What we teach 5th graders every year as part of our copyrighted Strike Out Stroke events and what I want to teach you now is to apply the acronym of F.A.S.T. to help you with detection of a stroke. It is simply this: 

Face – Does one side of the face droop? Ask them to smile.

Arms – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech – Is speech slurred? Ask them to repeat a simple sentence. Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time – If they show any of these symptoms, call 911 or get to the hospital immediately.

OK, now on with Jan’s article.] 

What exactly is a stroke?

A stroke is a brain attack.  Disruption of blood flow in the brain causes death to the brain tissue.  There are different types of stroke and the diagnosis performed above is essential in order for the medical staff to know how it can be treated.

One type of stroke is called a hemorrhagic stroke.  This occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks and bleeding into the brain causes tissue to die.

A sub-arachnoid hemorrhage is a type of hemorrhagic stroke occurring when an aneurysm (a weakening or ballooning of the blood vessel wall) breaks. 

But the most common type is an ischemic stroke and this is the type Mr. Johnson experienced.  This occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is blocked by a blood clot or plaque in an artery.   That area of brain dies due to the blockage of that blood vessel.

Part One Summation 

All of these different strokes require very different types of emergent treatment.  Even patients with initially minor stroke symptoms or symptoms that come and go require emergent treatment.  Without immediate and appropriate treatment, each of these strokes can progress causing worsening disability or death.

So why did Mr. Johnson recover so well and so fast? Well, I’m going to tell you next week so be sure to tune in on Monday.

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