ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s been a long haul for Mark Buehler since his stroke Dec. 19, 1990.
But Mark never lost his sense of humor. ItĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s one of the things that saved him. Now heĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s a shining example to other patients, said Larissa Pickett, an occupational therapist in Sun City Center.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“I want to help,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Mark said as he pulled on a green Theraband, a therapeutic tool used for strengthening arms, hands and shoulders.
Since beginning his therapy, Mark has gradually recovered enough to accomplish the tasks of daily living: dressing, bathing, cooking Ă˘â‚¬â€ś even playing golf, although he still has trouble with speech.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“I am interested in providing support for other patients,Ă˘â‚¬Âť he said with some difficulty.
Then he laughs at himself.
Pickett, MarkĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s other therapist Beth Fischer and a therapeutic assistant, Kelly Regina, all agree attitude is more than half the battle after having what many in the medical community now prefer to call a Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“brain attackĂ˘â‚¬Âť rather than a stroke.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Too many people think strokes and heart attacks are the same thing,Ă˘â‚¬Âť said Dr. Ghassan Ksaibati, medical director of South Bay HospitalĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s emergency department and a member of the West Central Florida Acute Stroke Committee, a group that sets policy on treatments. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“A heart attack is caused by low blood flow to the heart and a stroke is an attack on the brainĂ˘â‚¬â€ś a brain attack really. And itĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s (stroke) the third leading cause of death in the U.S., with 700,000 people dying each year and those who donĂ˘â‚¬â„˘t die ending up with some form of disability.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
While approximately one-third of the people who have strokes have heart problems, the two conditions are not always related, he said.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“About 10 percent of people Ă˘â‚¬â€ś about 67,000 a year (in the U.S.) Ă˘â‚¬â€ś have bleeding into the brain with it (the stroke),Ă˘â‚¬Âť he explained. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“This is the worst kind, caused by a hemorrhage, or trauma of some kind.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
There is a very small window of time to save someone who has this type of stroke, he said. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“The window can be from three to six hours, depending upon many factors, including where the patient gets treatment,Ă˘â‚¬Âť he said. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“A trauma center where they have all the new techniques of course, is best.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Strokes can also be caused by narrowing of the arteries, especially the carotid (in the neck) or from a clot in a different part of the body making its way through the blood vessels into the brain, or from a trauma, like an accident or blow to the head, he added.
Dr. Kamlesh Patel, a specialist in neurological disorders based at South Bay Hospital, explained the symptoms.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“There could be acute confusion thatĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s clearly not related to dementia,Ă˘â‚¬Âť Patel said. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“Transient confusion.Ă˘â‚¬Âť (Meaning not all the time.)
Numbness, tingling , pins and needles or weakness, especially on one side of the body; difficulty in speech and clumsiness are also signs, he added.
Some patients, like Marianne Fedyschyn, never have a clue until the attack happens.
Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“They were waiting for me at the library (where she is a longtime volunteer) and I never showed up,Ă˘â‚¬Âť she said. Ă˘â‚¬Ĺ“What had happened was that I rolled out of bed in my sleep. I knew something was wrong. I called 911 myself.Ă˘â‚¬Âť
Knowledge and prevention are key to getting, and staying healthy, Patel said.
People who want to learn more about strokes may visit the American stroke Association Web site at http://www.strokeassociation.org.