The Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital will soon have 25 dedicated beds for treatment of stroke.

The ward that will start functioning from Monday is to ensure that patients who come soon after a stroke can recover and return home to lead a normal life.

Most people who suffer stroke end up leading a severely compromised life even after hospitalisation and physiotherapy.

Stroke is associated with permanent paralysis caused by atrophy of muscles and brain power. However, neurologists say that a patient can prevent it by being alert and aware of changes and seeking treatment in time.

There are five signs that indicate onset of stroke: weakness of one set of limbs – hands and legs; numbness – loss of sensory feeling to fire, pin prick etc. on the skin; abnormal speech, vision changes and general weakness, said C. Mutharasu, head of the Department of Neurology, Madras Medical College to which the GH is attached.

Earlier, strokes were associated with those over the age of 50 or 60. But now smoking, alcohol consumption, conditions like diabetes, hypertension and atherosclerosis are causing stroke in people below the age of 40 years.

“Four of the 110 new patients we receive as outpatients every day are new cases who can be treated and the patient can return home,” Dr. Mutharasu said.

Normally, it takes at least six months to a year for a person who suffers a stroke to recover. Even then the recovery is only partial as treatment is started long after stroke has done permanent damage.

The hospital has procured drugs that would be administered intravenously immediately after the patient is admitted to hospital. The drug, costing Rs. 70,000 for a single dose, is covered under the Chief Minister’s health insurance scheme said hospital dean V. Kanagasabai.

According to the hospital authorities, the treatment can be offered as a day care procedure for those who come early. The patient may be required to be in the hospital for only three or four hours.

“We have a large team of around 85 neurologists and neurosurgeons, including the postgraduate students. There are enough specialists available to attend to patients,” Dr. Kanagasabai said.

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