This week is Stroke Awareness Week and the South Island Alliance is supporting the Stroke Foundation to spread the message about how to recognise stroke symptoms and how important it is to seek medical treatment quickly.
Stoke is the third largest cause of death in New Zealand, but most people don’t know the signs and symptoms someone is having a stroke. Around 9000 New Zealanders having a stroke each year, but by getting to medical care as quickly as possible it can significantly reduce the damage done by a stroke.
This year, Stroke Awareness Week is all about FAST: Face Arms Speech Time. If someone has symptoms where one side of their face is drooping, one of their arms is weaker, or their speech is slurred or confused then you need to act FAST to get them to hospital as time is critical to treating stroke.
Chair of the Alliance’s Stroke Services workstream, Dr Wendy Busby emphasised that prompt medical treatment can make a difference in the impact of stroke on a person. “We know that the sooner people receive medical attention, the sooner we can look at treatment options that reduce the level of damage being done to the brain. The key to this is for people to recognise when a stroke might be occurring – that is why remembering FAST message is important.”
The South Island Alliance Stroke Services workstream brings together clinical and management staff from the five South Island DHBs to work on ensuring that improvements are made in the provision of acute and rehabilitation stroke services delivered across the South Island.
Some of the areas the group are working on include:
- Assisting South Island DHBs to provide best practice based acute and rehabilitation stroke services.
- Implementing consistent rehabilitation referral and management pathways for patients that ensure they receive the right care and support through inpatient and community-based rehabilitation.
- Workforce planning and development to ensure health professionals have good access to continuing education on acute and rehabilitation stroke management.
- The development of a ‘Life after Stroke’ programme to encourage stroke prevention and improved health outcomes among those who have already had a stroke.