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What does AVM stand for?Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) is an abnormal tangle of arteries and veins. AVM's usually occur in the brain or spine, and most of the time, people are completely unaware that they are present. A dural AVM is a special type of AVM which takes place in the brain. A dural AVM is among the rarest types and occurs in less than 1% of the general population. It is the most dangerous AVM because of the damage it can cause through bleeding. While we still do not know the cause of AVM's, we know that a dural AVM can occur in adults following an injury. Most AVM's are congenital and not passed down genetically, unless a carrier has H.H.T, which is a disorder where blood vessels do not develop properly. The average age in which an AVM is discovered is around 20-40. An AVM doesn’t care who you are in terms of who it affects; across the board, every race and gender are typically equal in diagnosed rates. When treating an AVM the main goal is to stop bleeding and prevent future bleeding. Treating an AVM should not be postponed and should not be taken lightly. The bleeding in a dural AVM can cause a stroke, resulting in possible permanent disabilities or death. If a child is discovered with an AVM their risk of bleeding is around 87% after 50 years. And the risk of bleeding amongst AVM carriers is around 4%. The range of symptoms ranges from seizures due to an abundance of electrical activity; headaches can occur through a dural AVM because of the higher blood pressure. Dural AVM's can also produce stroke-like symptoms due to a lack of oxygen and nutrients getting to the brain. Stroke-like symptoms can include anything from weakness and paralysis to problems with hearing, vision, and memory, and in extreme cases, personality changes. The final symptom is of course, bleeding. Bleeding caused by a ruptured AVM or aneurysm is the main reason to seek treatment and can cause the most permanent damage. The average rate of acquiring a disability through bleeding is 50%, whether its a major bleed or even a minor one. Treatment for an AVM can be either radiation treatment or brain surgery, depending on the location and complexity of the AVM. Radiation treatment is where a narrow x-ray beam is focused on the AVM, and a lower dose is focused on the rest of the brain. The goal with this procedure is to get the AVM to shrivel up in about two to three years, and the risk of bleeding is still present in those recovery years. With brain surgery, the patient is put under anesthesia and into an operating room. The risk of this procedure is much higher, and the results vary depending on whether the AVM has ruptured, causing the surgery, or if the surgery was proactive to remove the AVM before it ruptures.
Why Stroke Is A Medical Emergency?When the blood flow to your brain is interrupted, it is a medical emergency known as a stroke. When the flow of blood to your brain is stopped the time it takes to get medical treatment is critical. As many neurologists will tell you, “Time is brain”. What this means is anytime the flow of blood to your brain is interrupted, the damage is occurring and prompt medical treatment at a hospital is needed. The sooner you can get medical treatment, the more likely you are to have a better outcome. We usually think of stroke as a blood clot stopping the flow of blood in your brain. This is, in fact, the most common type of stroke called an ischemic stroke. According to the American Heart Association, 87% of stokes are estimated to be ischemic. There are three main types of stokes and all are considered medical emergencies. Another type of stoke is a hemorrhagic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures in your head. This can be caused by an aneurysm, an arteriovenous malformation, or a weakened small blood vessel caused by very high blood pressure. Lastly, a transient ischemic attack or TIA is also called a mini-stroke or a warning stroke. TIA’s are caused by a temporary blood clot that lasts for a shorter period of time. They are usually a warning sign that something is going on and a full ischemic stroke is likely if treatment is not sought. Our brains are complex and affect all parts of our body including movement, speech, learning, and so much more. When the blood flow to your brain is stopped either by a clot or a bleed it is vital to your outcome to get medical treatment immediately. So how can you tell if someone is having a stroke? The American Stroke Association has set the following guidelines to help everyone recognize the common symptoms of a stroke. What are some symptoms of a stroke? Remember this acronym to help determine if someone is having a stroke: F.A.S.T. Face- Does one side of the person’s face appear to be drooping? Ask the person to smile- does one side of their mouth drop down? Arm- Is one arm weak? Ask the person to raise both arms- does one arm drop down? Speech- Is it slurred or difficult to understand? Time- Call 9-1-1- immediately. Time is brain! If you or someone you are with experience any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. While these are the most common symptoms, it should also be noted that if someone complains of the worst headache of their life, has sudden confusion, trouble walking, or sudden problems with coordination they can also be signs of a stroke and immediate medical attention is needed. Remember, stroke is a medical emergency and the sooner you can get help, the more you improve the chances for a better outcome.
How Do I Become More Independent Post-Stroke?You need to always have a good mindset. I know that every stroke survivor's story is a little different but in my experience, it just takes time to adapt to life post-stroke. It helps a lot to have a support team which can include family members to cheer you on. After my stroke, plus the 63 days in the hospital, I was finally released to go home. Life at home was different than before and I had to learn to be independent and adapt to new ways of doing things. Once I started becoming more active and my energy increased, I began to face problems that I had never faced before as an active and agile 13-year-old. I asked myself questions like “How am I going to put on socks with one hand?”, and “How am I going to cut my food with one hand?”. I learned a lot of adaptive techniques from my two years of physical and occupational therapy, but nothing compares with just exploring what adaptations work for you. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially if you’re feeling down. The pride and excitement that comes from solving a challenge also help improve your mindset and increase your independence. Life post-stroke is what you make it. From day one of my stroke, I have tried not to look back, but to always keep moving forward to create my story and help others along the way. Online communities and websites with valuable adaptive equipment can help ease the transition post-stroke. I have found several valuable resources online including the products mentioned in my website and one of my affiliates, The Wright Stuff. The Wright Stuff offers a variety of products for varying disabilities, from adaptive cooking aides to an extensive line of exercise equipment. The Wright Stuff is having deals up to 50% off through the month of May. Think about your personal challenges with independence and then think about what would help and often the product already exists online.
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