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When Stroke Strikes Young

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Meg Hunt had a memorable Friday night with her husband and another couple. The foursome went rock climbing at a local indoor gym and then enjoyed a wonderful meal at their favorite restaurant. The married mother of 2 was in bed by 11 pm that night to prepare for an early spring Saturday full of activities with her family.  But when that Saturday arrived she woke up to an unnerving buzzing sound in her head and the realization that she could not see. Confused, nauseous and scared, she urged her husband to call an ambulance.  The 37-year-old was having a stroke. 

Officially, she had a vertebral artery dissection that was trying to heal itself when it caused 2 brain stem blood clots.  Vertebral artery dissection (VAD) is a flap-like tear of the inner lining of the vertebral artery. Located in the neck, the vertebral arteries supply blood to the brain. VAD symptoms may include head and neck pain and common stroke symptoms such as difficulty speaking, vision loss and impaired function. The life-threatening tear can be spontaneous or traumatic.

"There are theories about why this happens and how it happens but the fact is, we don't know exactly how it happens," said Sandra Gibson, PT, Southcoast Brain & Spine Center in Dartmouth, MA. 

Please watch our video that accompanies the ADVANCE for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine cover feature, "Brain Attack."  Our video features Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital's Kerri Kennedy, PT, from Hunt's inpatient stay and Gibson, Susan Sherman, PT, and Heather Robinson, PT, from Southcoast Brain & Spine, as well as Brian Knutsen, OTR/L, CHT, president of Buzzards Bay Hand Therapy LLC.


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