Take the Challenge: Pledge to Help Recognize the Signs of Stroke


By: Naseem Chatiwala, PT, DPT, MS, NCS


“I have had vertigo for 5 years now which presents as Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. I usually know when I am about to get it- the room starts to spin. My PT has showed me a maneuver. On April 10th, when I woke up, I felt dizzy- nothing like I have felt before. I had double vision, and tingling around my left lip. I kept waiting for the room to spin but it never did. I called my primary care physician who told me I had to immediately go to ER. I went to ER and the CT scan came negative- I was sent home. Next day- double vision got worse, I had severe nausea, I could not even walk straight. I felt as if I was overly drunk. I fell”. The patient was taken to the ER via ambulance and an MRI revealed a medullary stroke. He is 49 year old.

I hear stories like this all the time. Patients, and sometimes even medical providers, are unable to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. As health care clinicians we pride ourselves in educating our patients and community on signs and symptom recognition of stroke.

The FAST acronym (Face dropping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call) is usually used to identify if someone is having a stroke. Additional symptoms to look for are:

  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

The key word here is SUDDEN. Together we need to spread this awareness of educating as many individuals as we can of the early signs of stroke and the importance of seeking immediate medical care.

According to a national survey commissioned by the Ronald Reagan- University of California, Los Angeles, Medical Center (1,009 respondents), a surprising 75 percent of Americans under the age of 45 do not know the signs and symptoms of stroke. Another frightening finding was 76 percent of those say they would likely wait out symptoms of weakness, numbness, difficulty with vision. A common problem we encounter is many younger people dismiss telling someone about symptoms because they think that stokes only occur in the elderly.

If something is painful- treatment is sought out right away. Strokes usually come with no pain and therefore are easily ignored by most people.

Among people who don’t get treatment right away after a stroke, ¼ will die, ½ will live with some form of significant handicap and only ¼ will live with reasonable good outcome.

Knowledge allows us to make educated choices. Be informed, recognize the signs, do not be in denial and seek help as necessary. During this Stroke Awareness Month, I challenge all health care providers to pledge to educate at least 10 people of the warning signs of a stroke. Drop by drop we will fill the ocean.

Visit our website to learn more about my current course, “Treatment Solutions for Dizziness, Balance & Vestibular Disorders.” Click here!