Stroke in Young People

Stroke in Young People

Stroke in young people is much less common than in the older population but has potentially far more impact on the individual and to society.  The incidence of stroke in those age 18-45 years of age ranges between 7-15 per 100,000 people for all types of stroke.[i]

Due to the decreased incidence of stroke in the young people, it can be misdiagnosed in the emergency room. This can lead to missing the window of time sensitive treatment.  Young adults may also be less likely to seek medical treatment, as stroke is still believed to be a disease of the elderly.

Stroke in younger adults presents many unique challenges from initial diagnosis to presentation and treatment approach. In this article, we look at the various causes of stroke in young people, symptoms and presentations, as well as how the unique needs of young adult stroke survivors are met with a specialized treatment approach.

What Can Cause Stroke in Young Adults?

There are various causes of stroke in young adults often due to heart and congenital factors such as arteriovenous malformations, patent foramen ovale (hole in chamber of the heart), and various blood disorders (that cause increased blood clotting).

While a greater percentage of hemorrhagic strokes occur in young adults (40-55%) compared to the general stroke population (15-20%), ischemic strokes are still the most common type of stroke among all groups.[ii]

Increased stress, poor diet and increased smoking rates may also contribute to stroke occurrence in young adults.

Depending on the area affected by the stroke, symptoms can mimic a variety of conditions.  Evidence suggests that ischemic strokes in young people can mimic are seizures, acute vestibular syndrome, migraine, infections, brain tumors, toxic-metabolic encephalopathy (particularly hypoglycemia), hypertensive encephalopathy, gastroenteritis, and conversion disorder.[iii]

The presentation of stroke in young adults depends on the location, size and initial treatment of the stroke.  While the typical stroke symptoms can be present, such as facial droop, one sided muscle weakness, speech difficulties, vision and balance difficulties, other symptoms may be evident as well including decreased coordination, sensory deficits, headache and fatigue.

Can a Young Person Recover from a Stroke?

In the young stroke population goals are aimed at returning to a high level of activity for what can be a long life ahead of them.  This includes returning to demanding careers, and to physical activity and sports while trying to balance and maintain family and friend relationships.

In this population goals can often feel overwhelming, and feelings of isolation can be apparent as other stroke survivors around them in hospitals and rehab settings are often older.  The effects of stroke can be devasting, but with an experienced team of dedicated therapists no goal is unachievable.

At Propel Physiotherapy, we specialize in recognizing the unique needs of young adult stroke survivors.  We work with clients to develop attainable goals and feasible treatment approaches to the client’s long-term goals.

Recognizing the unique challenges that often accompany working with younger adults such as balancing work commitments, caring for family members, recognizing the importance of social connection, and dealing with fatigue are part of our treatment approach.  

Written by

Kathy Mileski
Kathy MileskiRegistered Physiotherapist and Mindfulness Trainer
Kathy Mileski loves the idea of helping others be as mobile and active as they possibly can. She believes that every person has the potential to do amazing things. That belief bolstered by her training and experience has helped her clients to achieve success in their rehab goals no matter where they are in terms of their recovery.



By |2020-10-26T01:06:33+00:00October 26th, 2020|Stroke Physiotherapy|0 Comments