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May Is Stroke Awareness Month – How Much Do You Know?

In 1989, President George H. W. Bush declared the month of May Stroke Awareness Month in the United States. Why? Because stroke is one of the leading causes of death in America and the leading cause of severe disability. This Stroke Awareness Month, we want to give you some facts about stroke, what you can do to prevent experiencing one, and what your disability options are should you have a stroke and suffer its debilitating effects.

A stroke occurs when either a clot or a rupture blocks blood flow to the brain which deprives brain cells of oxygen and causes them to die. Strokes caused by clots are called ischemic strokes, strokes caused by rupture are called hemorrhagic strokes, and transient ischemic strokes (TIA), better known as “mini strokes” are caused by temporary blockages that eventually clear but cause oxygen deprivation in the brain for a period of time.

You may have heard that timing is crucial when strokes are involved. That is because approximately 2 million brain cells die every minute a stroke is not treated and the brain goes without oxygen. If you think you or someone you love is experiencing a stroke, dial 911 immediately and note the time that symptoms appeared.

Remembering the FAST acronym will help identify what is happening: F = face drooping; A = arm weakness; S = speech difficulty; and T = time to call an ambulance. Other warning signs can include dizziness, a brief loss of consciousness, and/or vision loss. Rapid intervention frequently makes the difference between a full recovery and permanent disability.

Although strokes most commonly occur in people over age 65, they can happen to anyone at any time, and, on average, one person dies of a stroke every 4 minutes. Every year, 795,000 people in the United States experience a stroke. The lasting effects of a stroke depend on which part of the brain was damaged, but they can include language problems, pain, incontinence, muscle weakness, seizures, full or partial paralysis, fatigue, dementia, and emotional disturbances.

If there is any good news associated with stroke, it is that 80% of them are preventable. You can help prevent one from occurring by managing your blood pressure, quitting smoking if you smoke, controlling your cholesterol, maintaining an active life style, eating better, losing weight if you are overweight or obese, and reducing your blood sugar.

In the event that you do experience a stroke, disability benefits through Social Security Administration (SSA) may be able to help. Although SSA considers strokes to be disabling, they must cause lasting impairments to qualify you for benefits. Section 11.04 of the Blue Book listings provides the criteria you must meet to be eligible for SSA disability benefits.

Please know that SSA delays the review of stroke claims for at least 3 months from the date of the stroke. That is because it is hard to know immediately what, if any, lasting effects the stroke will have on a person. About 75% of stroke victims have some form of residual effects. Hopefully, you will make a full recovery. But if you do not, and the effects make it impossible for you to work, contact a trusted Social Security disability attorney to initiate your claim for benefits.