Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona Blog

Now is the Time to Be Aware of Stroke

May is Stroke Awareness Month, a time to raise understanding about the risk factors and prevention of stroke. Stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, either by a blood clot or a burst blood vessel, causing brain cells to die.

One of the most important things to understand about stroke, the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., is that once you can recognize risk factors, there are things you can do to greatly reduce the likelihood of having a stroke.

Prevention is key. Knowing your family history and discussing your risk with your healthcare provider can help you take steps to ward off stroke. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a common health condition that can increase the risk of stroke. Fortunately, there are several ways to manage high blood pressure, including:

Lifestyle Changes: Making healthy lifestyle changes can help lower blood pressure. Eat a healthy low-sodium diet; maintain a healthy weight; get regular exercise; quit smoking; and limit alcohol consumption.

Medications: These include diuretics, ACE inhibitors, beta-blockers, and calcium channel blockers. Your healthcare provider can help determine which medication is best for you.

Stress Management: Engage in relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or yoga.

Monitor Blood Pressure: Regularly monitor blood pressure to help identify changes and allow for prompt intervention if necessary.

Manage Underlying Health Conditions: High blood pressure can be a result of underlying health conditions, such as kidney disease or sleep apnea.

Despite these preventative measures, stroke can hit anyone at any age. The “FAST” method is a simple way to remember the signs and symptoms of stroke and to act quickly if you or someone you know is experiencing them. “FAST” stands for:

F – Face Drooping: When someone is having a stroke, one side of their face may droop or appear uneven.

A – Arm Weakness: The individual may have weakness or numbness in one arm or leg.

S – Speech Difficulty: The person may have trouble speaking or understanding speech. Their speech may be slurred, or they may be unable to speak at all.

T – Time to Call for Help: If you or someone you know is experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important to call 911 right away. Time is of the essence when it comes to stroke treatment, so the quicker treatment is received, the better.

Remembering the “FAST” method can help you quickly identify the signs of stroke and take action to get the medical help needed.

If you or a loved one does have a stroke, the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona has programs to help in the often-confusing recovery. Will Grove facilitates Brain Cave, a statewide virtual group for adult men with all levels of brain injury, including stroke. “It’s important to have a safe place to share experiences and techniques for adapting to a new life. Many members are relieved to discover others struggling on many levels.

The group for adult women is called She Shed and also meets weekly. Facilitator Janice Podzimek is aware of the importance of these virtual meetings. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but having access to resources and other people’s experiences go a long way in being able to tailor each individual’s recovery journey.”

For more information, please contact our group facilitators directly:

Brain Cave – Meets the first Wednesday of each month, 6:00-7:30pm.
No charge, but you must register.

Will Grove – Resource Facilitation Specialist & Certified Brain Injury Specialist (888) 500-9165

She Shed – Meets the first Thursday of each month, 6:00-7:30pm
No charge, but you must register.

Janice Podzimek – Certified Brain Injury Specialist (888) 500-9165


The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ) is the only statewide nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of adults and children with all types of brain injuries through prevention, advocacy, awareness and education. BIAAZ also houses the Arizona Brain Health Resource Center, a collection of educational information and neuro-specific resources for brain injury survivors, caregivers, family members and professionals.

What began in 1983 as a grassroots effort has grown into a strong statewide presence, providing valuable life-long resources and community support for individuals with all types of brain trauma at no charge.

The Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona:

  • Works with Congressional Brain Injury Task Force
  • Houses Arizona Brain Health Resource Center
  • Hosts virtual and in-person support groups for survivors and families
  • Has Statewide Opioid Use Disorder & Cognitive Impairment Response team with peer support, training, and family wraparound services
  • Facilitates Brain Health Advisory Council
  • Manages statewide Help Line: 888-500-9165

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