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Stroke

Effects Of A Stroke

Thursday, January 8, 2015 - 11:48

Contributing Author: Guy Slowik FRCS

A stroke affects different people in different ways. While some people make a full recovery, others may find that some problems do persist. These may include:

Speech Changes

Some people have difficulty with speech. When stroke has damaged the part of the brain that controls the muscles used to produce speech, speech may become slurred. The survivor understands words and conversation but cannot speak distinctly. This condition is called dysarthria.

When stroke has damaged the part of the brain that controls language, the survivor may lose the ability to speak and understand speech. The ability to read and write can be affected. The person may have difficulty finding the right word or may use an incorrect word. He or she may find, when reading, that some words make no sense. This condition is called aphasia.

Nice To Know:

Some tips for caregivers of people with speech or language difficulties:

  • Avoid distractions. Do not have many other people in the room, turn off the television or radio when someone is speaking.
  • Have a one-on-one conversation. Do not allow more than one person to speak at one time.
  • Give the person a lot of time to speak.
  • Allow the person to speak for himself or herself if someone else asks a question; don't try to answer it yourself.

Vision Changes

Stroke may affect vision on one side (usually the same side that has been weakened by the stroke). When talking to someone with impaired vision, always stand or sit on the "good" side. Consider that the person may ignore people or objects on the other side and may bump into them.

Memory And Concentration Difficulties

Memory and concentration may be affected after a stroke. In the early stages, individuals may not be able to concentrate for very long and may become easily distracted. They may have problems with particular tasks, such as finding the way about the house or getting dressed, yet have no other major difficulties.

Paralysis

Stroke frequently causes paralysis on one side of the body. This condition is called hemiplegia. The paralysis may affect only the face, an arm, or a leg; or it may affect one entire side of the body and face.

  • A person who suffers a stroke in the left side of the brain may show right-sided paralysis.
  • A person who suffers a stroke in the right side of the brain may show paralysis on the left side of the body.

Weakness And Stiffness

Paralyzed limbs may recover their strength but may remain clumsy or stiff. Some types of muscular stiffness (a condition called spasticity) can be helped with medication. People with weak hands often are given a soft ball to squeeze to help improve their grip.

Difficulty Eating And Swallowing

Damage to certain areas of the brain can cause difficulty eating and swallowing. This condition is called dysphagia. Therapy to help the brain relearn these skills has shown great success. Until a person is able to eat again, he or she can receive sustenance intravenously (with an IV that delivers nourishment directly into the bloodstream). Most people who have had a stroke will recover their ability to swallow safely.

Mood Changes

The days and months after experiencing a stroke are a stressful time. The stroke survivor may be unable to return to work immediately and may lose independence for a while. After the immediate shock, a stroke survivor may feel anxiety, anger, and frustration. A lack of information may contribute to the anxiety. Anxiety and frustration can be reduced by support from doctors, therapists, and other caregivers.

Nice To Know:

Q: My wife just hasn't been herself since her stroke. She seems to have lost interest in many things and no longer seems to be enjoying life, even though her recovery is progressing well. What could be wrong?

A: Your wife could be suffering from depression. After recovery from a stroke, many people do feel depressed. This depression is normal, and usually disappears within three months after the brain attack. Medication is available to relieve symptoms of depression.

Personal Relationships

Many people worry that sexual intercourse may bring on another stroke. This is not true. A person who has recovered from a stroke can return to all normal activities, including sexual relations. Even people who are still experiencing some difficulties related to a stroke can resume normal loving and intimate relationships.

Nice To Know:

Open discussion and careful consideration of each other's needs is the secret to maintaining a successful relationship after stroke. Restoring a warm, loving relationship with a partner is an important step in returning to a normal life.

Other Challenges To Face

Because a stroke affects each person differently, there may be other physical challenges:

  • The sensitivity of the skin may be altered after a stroke. Some people experience numbness while others feel as if their skin is extra sensitive.
  • Certain individuals experience pain, uncomfortable numbness, or strange sensations after a stroke. These sensations may be caused by many factors, including damage to the sensory regions of the brain.
  • Control of bowels and bladder may be lost temporarily after a stroke, but most people do recover function.

Stroke