A stroke is kind of a strange word for a health problem. You probably think of a stroke as something good. You might stroke your dog's fur. Or maybe someone has told you: "That's a stroke of good luck."
But if someone has a stroke, it means something has stopped the normal blood flow to the brain. Strokes usually happen to older people, like grandparents. Kids don't typically get them.
Blood is circulating through your body all the time in tubes called arteries and veins. Usually, these blood vessels work fine and there's no problem. That's important because blood carries oxygen to all the cells in your body. And without oxygen, the cells would die.
A stroke can happen if something keeps the blood from flowing as it should. A person might have a clogged blood vessel, so the blood can't get through. Or a blood vessel may burst and a part of the brain is suddenly flooded with blood. Either way, with a stroke, brain cells die because they don't get the oxygen they need.
There are two main types of strokes:
There are also "mini strokes" called transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). These are not full-blown stokes because the blood flow is only cut off for a short amount of time and they don't cause the same kind of damage right away; however, they are a warning sign that something is wrong and that a real stroke might be on its way.
Strokes are serious. People who have strokes can get really sick, have brain damage, or die. But many people recover from strokes, especially if they know the warning signs and can get help quickly.
A stroke usually happens suddenly, and a person having a stroke has several of these signs:
Anyone who has even one of these symptoms should get to the hospital right away. The first thing a doctor will do is make sure the person is not in immediate danger, like making sure he or she can breathe.
Next, the doctor will want to figure out what's causing this problem. The doctor can run tests on the heart and brain.
If it looks like a stroke, doctors usually get a CT scan, a special kind of X-ray of the brain. This test can show the doctor what part of the brain has been affected and how big the stroke is.
Recovering from a stroke can happen quickly or can take a long time. How soon someone gets better depends on how bad the stroke was and how healthy the person was before the stroke.
People who have had a stroke may need medicine or surgery. Later, they may need rehabilitation (say: ree-huh-bih-luh-TAY-shun). Treatment for a stroke will depend on what caused it.
Medicine: For a stroke caused by a clogged blood vessel (ischemic), the doctor might give the person medicine that thins the blood and keeps it from clotting too much. There's even "clot-busting" medicine that can break up a blood clot. This medicine is given through an IV and works best if it is given very quickly.
Surgery: Doctors may do surgery to open up a clogged blood vessel to help prevent another stroke later on. If a person has had a hemorrhagic stroke, surgery may be needed to remove blood clots or fix weak blood vessels.
Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation, or rehab, is when people to relearn basic things, like walking, talking, writing, or taking care of themselves. They may need speech therapy, physical therapy, or occupational therapy.
It can be scary if someone you care about has a stroke. But strokes can be big or small. A small one may not cause too much damage and the person may get back to normal quickly.
But a major stroke can cause big problems with important stuff, like walking and talking. With a major stroke, someone may spend a lot of time in the hospital. Once the person is home, he or she may need special care, therapy, medicine, and a lot of doctor visits. In some cases, the person may have lasting problems with important skills, like walking or talking.
But often, people are able to relearn the important skills they lost. It may take time and patience, though. So if you know someone who has had a stroke, encourage him or her to keep on doing the hard work necessary to regain these skills.
It's also important for you to talk with someone if you have questions or worries about someone who has had a stroke. You might feel sad, frustrated, or angry that this happened to someone you love, especially if this person isn't able to do stuff with you like before.
It's also normal for people who have had a stroke to feel frustrated and upset, especially if they need to re-learn something as basic as feeding themselves. It can make a person feel less independent.
Some strokes can be prevented in adults. Here are some stroke-prevention tips for grown-ups:
What can kids do? Live healthy from an early age. Don't start smoking, eat healthy, and be an active kid!
Reviewed by: Harry S. Abram, MD
Date reviewed: June 2013
|Neuroscience for Kids This University of Washington site offers kids a wide range of information about the brain and nervous system. Kids will find experiments and kid-friendly explanations of this complex subject.|
|Concussions Ow! You fell and hit your head. But do you have a concussion? Find out about concussions in this article for kids.|
|Your Brain & Nervous System Your brain is the boss of your body and runs the whole show. Learn more in this article for kids.|
|What's Cholesterol? Chances are, you've heard about cholesterol a lot lately, but you might be wondering what it is. Here's your chance to get the lowdown in our article just for kids.|
|What Is a Coma? A coma can be difficult to understand, especially because it may look like the person is just sleeping. Find out what a coma is and how people recover from them.|
|Cataracts Do you know an older person who has cataracts? Find out about this vision problem in this article for kids.|
|Why Do People Shrink? Does your grandmother seem to be getting shorter? Sometimes, people lose a little height as they age. Find out why in this article for kids.|
|Why Does Hair Turn Gray? Can you imagine yourself with gray hair someday? Find out why it happens in this article for kids.|
|What Are Wrinkles? Wrinkles! Everyone eventually gets at least a few. Find out why in this article for kids.|
|Alzheimer Disease We all forget things once in a while. But Alzheimer disease, a condition older adults can get, is different from everyday forgetting.|
|Why Exercise Is Cool Exercise can help keep a kid's body fit and healthy. Learn more about what exercise can do for you in this article for kids.|
What to expect when coming to Akron Children's
For healthcare providers and nurses
Residency & Fellowships, Medical Students, Nursing and Allied Health
For prospective employees and career-seekers
Our online community that provides inspirational stories and helpful information.