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The Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

De Caro & Kaplen partner Michael V. Kaplen, a three-term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State, and professorial lecturer at law, teaching a course in brain injury law at the George Washington University Law School, discusses the signs and symptoms of a stroke, and how time is of the essence when it comes to recognizing and reacting to those symptoms.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke can make a significant difference in seeking prompt treatment for stroke victims and even save a life.

What is an easy way to remember the signs and symptoms of a stroke?

The anacronym F A S T helps in recognizing the common stroke indicators.  The letters represent:

  • Facial Drooping
  • Arm Weakness
  • Speech Difficulty
  • Time to call for help   

What happens when a stroke occurs?

A stroke occurs when the brain’s oxygen supply is interrupted, with ischemic strokes caused by obstructions like blood clots and hemorrhagic strokes resulting from blood vessel rupture.

When a blood vessel in the neck is damaged from trauma, a clot may form which can  to the brain causing a blockage known as a cervical artery dissection or vertebral artery dissection.

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?

Frequent signs of a stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body
  • Confusion
  • Speech difficulties
  • Vision impairment
  • Balance issues,
  • Severe headaches without an apparent cause.

What does the phrase, “Time is Brain” mean in stroke diagnosis and treatment?

Timely recognition and treatment are essential for a successful recovery. The sooner treatment is instituted, the better the chance for reducing the long-term effects of a stroke.  

What are the causes of medical malpractice stroke misdiagnosis or treatment?

  • Understaffed or improperly trained hospital emergency departments.
  • Medical staff overlooking or ignoring stroke warning signs.
  • Failure to take proper medical histories or conduct a thorough physical examination.
  • Fail to order proper diagnostic studies (like a CT scan or MRI) to pinpoint a blockage.
  • Improperly classify the stroke as another medical condition, which results in delayed and/or improper treatment.
  • Failing to administer blood-thinning or anti-coagulation medications to the patient to prevent a stroke in patients suffering from a heart condition known as atrial fibrillation or “A Fib” for short.
  • Failing to administer a clot busting medication known as (tPA), an FDA-approved clot-busting drug with the ability to stop the progression of a stroke if timely given after the onset of symptoms.;
  • Failing to surgically remove the clot through a procedure known as an embolectomy.

For more information and legal assistance on medical malpractice for failure to timely diagnose a stroke or start emergency treatment:

About The Author

Michael V. Kaplen

Michael V. Kaplen represents victims of vehicle collisions, unsafe buildings and construction sites, and medical malpractice, and is a preferred attorney of The Brain Injury Association of America.

Michael is board certified as a Civil Trial Advocate and board certified in medical malpractice litigation. He is a Professorial Lecturer in Law, The George Washington University Law School, The Legal Aspects of Traumatic Brain Injury.

Michael is past chairman of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) Automobile, Highway and Premise Liability Section, past chairman of the AAJ Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group, three term president of the Brain Injury Association of New York State served two terms as chair of the New York State Traumatic Brain Injury Services Coordinating Council and vice-president, New York State Academy of Trial Lawyers.

He was invited by President Obama to participate in the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit.

He is admitted to courts in New York, Florida, and Washington, DC. He has been selected as a New York Super Lawyer and recognized by Best Lawyers of America and U.S. News and World Report in personal injury law.

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