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Stroke: The vital signs to look out for and the importance of early treatment and rehabilitation

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability and occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off.  There are approximately 1.3 million Stroke survivors in the UK.

According to the National Stroke Association 10 per cent of people who suffer from a stroke recover completely, 25 per cent recover with minor impairments and 40 per cent experience moderate to severe impairments that require special care.

Stroke symptoms – F A S T

The acronym FAST is often used to help raise awareness on how to detect symptoms of a stroke. 

Face: Sudden numbness or weakness in the face. The face may have dropped on one side, a person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.

Arms: Numbness in the arm or leg, a person may be unable to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness in one arm.

Speech: May be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.  They may also have problems understanding what you are saying to them.

Time: Dial 999 immediately.

The importance of early treatment

Strokes are classed as a medical emergency and urgent treatment is essential as the earlier the treatment the less damage that is likely to occur. How quickly people receive a brain scan after arriving at hospital is a key part of acute care and helps to determine the treatment that will be most effective. 

Although strokes are more common in older people, a stroke can affect anyone including children and can cause life-altering disabilities which can require long term recovery.

A stroke can affect the whole person, i.e. it can impact on their mobility, speech and language, short-term memory, extreme fatigue and depression. Some people no longer feel like themselves. 

The treatment available will depend on the type and the severity of the stroke.  A stroke can be treated with medication and sometimes surgery.  Some survivors are left with long term problems caused by injury to the brain.


A survivor may for instance have to re-learn how to walk and speak and, depending on the severity of the stroke, may require extensive rehabilitation. It's important that rehabilitation is obtained at an early stage.  Recovery can take weeks, months or even years.

Sadly I see clients affected by brain injuries, the consequences of which can be devastating.  While it’s too late to have prevented their injury I often see how ensuring they can access the rehabilitation they require as soon as possible can greatly help with their recovery.

The brain injury charity SameYou is working to develop better recovery treatment and create the missing emotional and mental health recovery services essential for survivors of brain injury and stroke. Its purpose is for brain injury survivors to feel they that they've not lost the person they were before.

Join the recovery revolution – support SameYou.    

Find out more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in supporting people affected by stroke and other brain injuries at our dedicated brain injuries claims section