To mark Stroke Awareness Month, we explore the life-altering impact of stroke, the critical importance of timely intervention and neurorehabilitation and the role medico-legal experts play.

Strokes are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide, affecting 1.3 million people in the UK alone.

Stroke Awareness Month is an annual campaign focused on raising awareness about the prevention and treatment of strokes, supporting stroke survivors, and educating the public on the impact of this serious medical condition.

It also emphasises the importance of recognising symptoms, such as sudden numbness, confusion, trouble speaking, and severe headaches, as timely medical intervention can significantly reduce the severity of stroke outcomes.
As experts in neurorehabilitation, our medico-legal experts understand the profound impact strokes have on individuals and the legal intricacies involved in supporting survivors.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, often due to a blood clot or ruptured blood vessel, which can lead to an acquired brain injury or brain damage.

The most common type of stroke is acute ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood clot obstructs a blood vessel in the brain and can lead to a significant loss of function in the affected areas.

A haemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding in or around the brain.

Meanwhile, a “mini-stroke” is a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain.

Getting a patient fast access to emergency medicine and treatment is crucial, as delayed diagnosis can have a significant impact on their potential for recovery.

Brain injuries and stroke

Strokes are a major cause of brain injuries. The UK Stroke Association reports that stroke strikes every five minutes, with 100,000 Brits experiencing one every year.

According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 87% of strokes are ischemic, resulting from blood clots blocking blood flow to the brain. The remaining 13% are hemorrhagic, caused by bleeding in or around the brain.

Some research has also shown that experiencing a brain injury can significantly increase your risk of ischemic stroke.

The impact of stroke

Strokes can lead to lasting physical, cognitive, and emotional impairments, which can profoundly affect survivors’ lives.

Many stroke survivors face challenges such as paralysis, weakness, and difficulty with movement, coordination and balance, which can make every day tasks extremely challenging.

Strokes can also cause memory disorders, emotional disturbances, language disorders and speech impairments, while depression, anxiety, and mood swings are common.

Following a stroke, many individuals require support to regain as much independence as possible.

The importance of neurorehabilitation for stroke recovery

Neurorehabilitation is a vital component of stroke recovery, focusing on helping survivors restore function and adapt to new limitations, while promoting independence and enhancing quality of life as much as possible.

It involves a multidisciplinary approach, including physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, and psychological support.

For teams handling medico-legal cases involving stroke survivors, understanding the role and impact of neurorehabilitation is essential to ensure they can advocate for their clients effectively.

When might you need a stroke expert witness?

A stroke expert witness can play an important role in cases dealing with medical malpractice, clinical negligence and personal injury cases. For example, if a stroke may have been misdiagnosed, improperly treated, or not well managed, or it occurred as the result of an avoidable injury.

Having a good understanding of the rehabilitation process allows solicitors to offer informed advice on settlement options, helping clients make decisions that align with their long-term health and financial needs. For example, they will need to consider things like long-term costs of assistive devices, and potential modifications to living environments, in order to accurately value claims for compensation.

Medico-legal experts who specialise in stroke medicine can carry out independent medical record reviews and medical examinations to assess the extent of a stroke-related disability on the impact on the individual’s ability to function, life care planning, as well as the right rehabilitation interventions required for recovery.

Visit our Expert Medical Directory to find a stroke expert today and explore further information on stroke expert witnesses.