A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is interrupted. This happens when a blood clot or plaque blocks a blood vessel in the brain (Ischaemic stroke) or a blood vessel ruptures (Haemorrhagic stroke).

Stroke may result in long-lasting neurological disturbances associated with permanent damage to the brain. While Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIA’s) cause reduced blood supply to an area of the brain, resulting in the signs and symptoms of a stroke, but they usually resolve within 24 hours. TIA’s should be regarded as a warning of a stroke and need to be investigated.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of a stroke may occur in isolation or together and can last from as little as a few seconds or become permanent. They include:

- Weakness, numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg on one or both sides of the body
- Difficulty speaking or understanding
- Dizziness
- Loss of balance
- Visual disturbances in one or both eyes
- Headaches, usually severe and of an abrupt onset
- Difficulty swallowing


When the blood supply to the brain is compromised it deprives the brain of oxygen and nutrients. This can result in the death of neurons (cells of the central nervous system).The following risk factors are associated with a stroke:

- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Smoking
- Family history of stroke or heart attack
- Being overweight
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Diabetes
- Heart problems


Symptoms consistent with a stroke require CT (computer tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) which should be performed as soon as possible to identify the location and whether the stroke is ischaemic or haemorrhagic.andnbsp;


Rehabilitation following a stroke will depend on the area of the brain involved and the amount of tissue damaged. Physiotherapy, occupational therapy and other allied health intervention is often required following a stroke. There is strong evidence that balance retraining improves post-stroke recovery.

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