May is American Stroke Month, and we are taking this opportunity to offer some basic information about one of the most common reasons for long-term disability claims. So far, we have reviewed the types of stroke and talked a little about the physical and cognitive damage a stroke can inflict. During recovery, patients can also experience emotional ups and downs, because the stroke has damaged the part of the brain that controls emotions and, at times, behavior.
The actress Patricia Neal is one of the most famous stroke survivors. Having won an Academy Award and a Tony Award, Neal was at the height of her career when she inexplicably suffered a series of strokes. The physical and emotional toll of her illness and recovery prevented her from performing, from making a living for years after.
Stroke is not just a geriatric issue. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, about 28 percent of the people in this state who have a stroke are under 65. While strokes are often fatal, a good number of people survive a stroke -- a good number of working people, in fact, because stroke is one of the most common causes of long-term disability.
We are continuing our discussion of stroke and a growing concern in the medical community that teens and young adults are more vulnerable now than they had been in the past. The human cost is different for younger Americans: Less likely to die from the effects of a stroke, teens and young adults tend to suffer long-term disabilities that sap the energy and financial resources of their families.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report a couple of years ago that shows that the risk of stroke is increasing among younger people. Between 2005 and 2008, the incidence of stroke in people age 15 to 44 increased by about 33 percent. Stroke, the leading cause of serious, long-term disability, is not just for old folks anymore.