Recognizing the signs of a stroke and taking fast action can save a person from significant damage or even death.

According to the National Stroke Association, for each minute a stroke goes untreated and blood flow to the brain is blocked, a person loses 1.9 million neurons. This can result in a variety of symptoms.

“It’s different for everyone, but the typical things you’ll see is one side of the body affected over the other, changes in vision or verbal skills, the drooping of the face,” said Marcus Doughty, an occupational therapist with Great Plains Health. Doughty works closely with stroke patients undergoing rehabilitation.

Other signs can include sudden confusion, dizziness, trouble walking or loss of balance or the sudden onset of a severe headache with no known cause.

“Some lost the ability to swallow,” Doughty added. “Speech pathologists play a big part in early care.”

To compensate for weakening or loss of control in facial and throat muscles, doctors may have patients eat a diet of pureed foods or add a thickening agent to liquids — even water.

“I had to do that,” said Michelle Martinez, one of Doughty’s patients. “Ugh, yuck!”

She grimaced as she remembered it.

If you notice someone showing any of these symptoms, you should call 911 immediately. Note the time when the first symptom began, the association advises, because this can affect treatment decisions.

For more information, visit the association’s website, stroke.org.

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