Dr Bret Wilson

3 Letters STR

 3 Letters STR
1. Smile 2. Talk 3. Raise
Recognize a Stroke – Save a Life
By Dr Bret

Dr Bret WilsonIn the almost thirty years of practice, I have had thousands of patients who entered my office with symptoms of neck pain and headache that they believed to be a chiropractic problem.  Chiropractic treatment was able to relieve most of these patients. On the other hand, I have had about 10 patients who while thinking they had the need for an adjustment, in fact were having vertebral basilar artery dissection, transient ischemic attack or in the preliminary stages of a stroke.  My training and experience enabled me to recognize the correct condition and refer these people to the proper medical care.

Chiropractic manipulative care is popular for neck pain and headache, but may increase the risk for vertebral basilar artery (VBA) dissection and stroke. Neck pain and headache are common symptoms of VBA dissection, which commonly precedes VBA stroke.  In other words, people who are suffering from headache or neck pain, seek the consult of a doctor, either their primary care physician (PCP) or their chiropractor (DC). A recent study, published in the medical journal Spine (Spine 2008;33:S176–S183), revealed that in patients over age 45, there is no increased association of stroke after a visit to a chiropractor. The study also pointed out an increased association of stroke following medical physician (primary care physician) visits for these complaints for all age groups.  The stroke follows the VBA dissection event, not as a result of the physician’s treatment.  The key for the doctor is to recognize the possibility of the cerebral vascular event, or a musculoskeletal event, in short, proper diagnosis and then refer for proper care.

If a stroke occurs, treatment within 3 hours of the event can significantly reduce the long term effects.  The sooner a person gets to the proper care, the greater the chance of a full recovery.

Doctors are trained to recognize the condition and get the patient to the proper care.  But what about the average person, how can you tell if there is just a headache with neck pain, or something more serious.  Initially a person having a brain attack may seem to function in a relatively normal way.  Initial signs may be subtle. The person may recognize something is wrong, but will rationalize that it is nothing serious.  Recognition of a stroke early can save lives and disability.

For stroke recognition remember the first 3 letters – S T R.

S – Ask the individual to SMILE.  If the person can only smile on one side, indicating partial facial paralysis, this is a sign of stroke.

T – Ask the person to TALK.  Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence (i.e. . . It is sunny out today).  A response that is slurred or incoherent indicates stroke.

R – Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.  If the person is unable to raise one arm, or one arm slowly drifts back down after lifting it, this is a positive sign.

Another simple test is to ask the person to stick out their tongue, if the tongue is “crooked” or deviates to on side can mean trouble.  Other signs of stroke include dizziness, unexplained falling, numbness of one side of the body, difficulty walking or veering to one side.

Difficulty with any of these tasks (STR) or a combination of some of the other signs, warrants a call to 911 and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.  Remember, quick recognition of the situation and getting yourself or someone close to you to proper medical care can decrease the long term damage and even save a life.

Have a Healthly Holiday Season….
Dr. Bret Wilson