A Guide To What Are Stroke Symptoms

A Summary Guide To What Are Stroke Symptoms and The Common Pathways From Hospital To Home

Before we dive into what are stroke symptoms a quick announcement:

You should consult your local Medical Officer if you suspect you’re experiencing any  of the stroke symptoms mentioned in this article.

It’s worth bearing in mind..

Stroke is the second biggest killer and the largest single cause of disability worldwide, says the Stroke Foundation.

At OTB our position is simple.

The more we can learn about stroke, especially prevention and knowing what are stroke symptoms as well as treatment options the better.

Mechanisms: What Are Stroke Symptoms

The event triggering the stroke symptoms may be

  • Ischaemic: A clot in a blood vessel supplying the brain. Following this event a cerebral infarct (an area of dead  nacrotic) tissues may occur in the area which is supplied by the blocked artery. If the blood flow is not restored within a short period of time then cellular death occurs.
  • Haemorrhagic: An artery ruptures and a bleed occurs within the brain

The American Stroke Association and the Stroke Foundation has a comprehensive Strokesaurus of key terms

What Are Early Stroke Signs and Symptoms

At the time of the stroke event a person will present with their own stroke signs, however, with the masses of data collated over the years identifying most stroke symptoms have become clearer to see. Specifically,  what are the stroke symptoms?


It’s the acronym to help people quickly detect the likelihood of a stroke by noting the following symptoms

F- Face: Changes in facial symmetry, one side more active than the other?

A- Arm: Is there a noted change in movement or sensation?

S- Speech: Is there a change to a person’s speech?

T- Time: If you see the signs – act quickly.

We recently wrote about FAST and of the emerging evidence to increase this to BE FAST

B- Balance: Is there a noted change to a person’s balance?

E- Eyes: Trouble with their vision?

What Are Stroke Symptoms In Early Days of Hospital

Classifying the types of Ischaemic Strokes

Within the ED or during an initial neurologist consultation you may hear terms such as TACI, PACI, Lacunar or LACI and POC. These four classifications help assess the likely extent of the stroke, the area of the brain which has been affected, prognosis as well as the underlying cause of the stroke. This is  known as the Bamford or Oxford Community Stroke Project Classification.

There are also a number of other tools like the stroke scale assessment such as the NIH Stroke Scale. A scale to measure the severity of a stroke. The scale’s 11 items describes the impairment arising from the stroke.

What your OT and allied health team will likely observe is the Functional Impairment, how does the stroke affect your ability to walk, move in bed, off bed and chairs, bathing, dressing, speaking, swallowing, planning and other cognitive skills, continence perception and vision for example.

What Are The Stroke Symptoms In The Rehab Setting( weeks to months after stroke)

The hospital team will commonly monitor a person’s recovery steps to help determine the path from hospital.  It needs to be said a person’s rehab path is often dependent on the stroke survivor’s recovery performance. The rehab team is monitoring and challenging the recovery path to support ongoing development and improvement of function.

Sadly, in the hospital setting most stroke survivors rarely obtain the intensity and exposure to rehab which is required to optimise recovery. The Clinical  Guidelines for Stroke Management 2010 suggest

Physio and Occupational Therapy should be provided as possible with a minimum of one hour active practice per day at least five days a week

It appears on average most people will experience 30% of the recommended rehabilitation dose.  Mounting evidence suggests that a far greater volume(duration) and intensity of rehab is required. Not only that the programs need to be progressive.

So no doubt, in the hospital environment, this can be a challenging and frustrating time for survivors and their families.

Are you happy with your stroke recovery plan?

Here’s how you can get direction and take control of your stroke recovery. CLICK: Make a start and build your Stroke Recovery Plan today

With the initial shock of the stroke passing, and the trauma of the stroke very visible,  most people now look for a positive direction in their recovery.

The common paths from hospital may include

  • direct to home,
  • to home with day rehab or community based rehab support
  • to in-patient rehab setting
  • to aged care for a period of transition care and then rehab or
  • long term residential aged care placement

Long Term Stroke Recovery Symptoms

We’ve discussed long term stroke recovery in another article.  In this article we explore the question of after rehab, now what?. In summary of the article

It’s never too late to start.

Other Popular Stroke Recovery Articles

Article References


The Occupational Therapy Blog is a news and health promotion initiative. It by no means aims to be a source of medical or therapeutic advice. We enjoy sharing information and will attempt to curate it as best we can. You’d appreciate we like to lighten our blog articles which often tackles very serious and personal issues. It’s our way of sharing. The information contained on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, or intervention. Always seek the advice of your GP or qualified therapist with any questions you may have regarding your personal situation. Never substitute or delay seeking professional advice because of information you’ve read on this website.


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