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Neurosciences & Stroke

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Stroke Symptoms

The symptoms of stroke depend on what part of the brain is injured. In some cases, a person may not even be aware that he or she has had a stroke. Symptoms usually develop suddenly and without warning. They may be episodic (occurring and then stopping) or they may slowly get worse over time. Symptoms may include:

  • Change in alertness (consciousness)
  • Coma
  • Unconsciousness
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding others
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty writing or reading
  • Headache
    • Occurs when lying flat
    • Wakes you up from sleep
    • Gets worse when you change positions or when you bend, strain, or cough
    • Starts suddenly
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Movement changes, usually on only one side of the body
  • Difficulty moving any body part
  • Loss of fine motor skills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Sensation changes, usually on only one side of the body
  • Numbness or tingling, usually on only one side of body
  • Sudden confusion
  • Weakness of any body part but usually on one side of body
  • Vision changes


Act FAST - Signs of Stroke
According to the National Stroke Association, always remember to act FAST if you think someone is having a stroke (FAST graphic on left courtesy of Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health):

  • Face - Does the face look uneven or drift down?
  • Arm - Does one arm drift down?
  • Speech - Does the person's speech sound strange? Ask the person to answer a simple question.
  • Time - If you observe any of these signs, it is time to call 9-1-1. The quicker the person receives treatment, the better his/her chances are for recovery.