What Challenges are Faced by a Stroke Survivor?

P.S. Jones

A stroke is a loss of brain function due to a lack, or a decreased amount, of blood flow to the brain. There can be any number of causes for a stroke, including blood clots or aneurysms. This leaves the area of the brain affected by the stroke unable to function. A stroke survivor faces many challenges as he or she starts the road to recovery, possibly including reduced mobility and communications skills.

The human brain, including blood vessels that can be involved in a stroke.
The human brain, including blood vessels that can be involved in a stroke.

One of the common effects of stroke is decreased mobility for the stroke survivor. Depending on which area of brain was affected by the loss of blood and oxygen, the patient may have decreased mobility on either the entire right side or left side of his body. Rehabilitation will include physical therapy to improve strength and endurance. The physical therapist may also work on specific tasks, like walking up stairs, or tying shoes.

A diagram of an ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke.
A diagram of an ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke.

For example, a stroke survivor may have difficulty coordinating his leg movements because one of his legs may be fully functioning, while the other is not. Physical therapy will include strength and endurance training. In another common scenario, the patient may be able to move his limbs, but have limited range of motion with those limbs. In that case, physical therapy exercises may include moving the limb repeatedly in increasingly wider ranges.

After a stroke, an individual may need to have a stair lift installed at home to aid in going up and down the stairs.
After a stroke, an individual may need to have a stair lift installed at home to aid in going up and down the stairs.

It is also not uncommon for a stroke survivor to face aphasia, a condition that causes difficulty producing or processing language. A speech therapist may work to improve language skills with the stroke survivor through cognitive linguistic therapy, requiring them to interpret the characteristics of different emotional tones in voices. There is also dysphasia, which is a condition characterized by difficulty swallowing because of malfunctioning muscles in the mouth and throat. Dysphasia often requires a combination of speech therapy and physical therapy to strengthen throat muscles. Certain prescription medicines such as some amphetamines or antidepressants may also be used in conjunction with speech therapy to treat either condition.

Stroke survivors are often faced with reduced mobility.
Stroke survivors are often faced with reduced mobility.

Other challenges that face a stroke survivor may be serous conditions with long-term effects. Parkinson’s disease, a condition characterized by a slow progression of tremors, rigidity, and slowed movement, is often traced back to a stroke. Dementia can also be brought on by loss of brain function from a stroke. Both conditions have very little chance of being reversed or improved.

Stroke therapy may include ongoing psychological care.
Stroke therapy may include ongoing psychological care.

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Discussion Comments


I have a very close friend who had a stroke at 18. We got him to the hospital within 10 minutes, but he was barely breathing at that time. They had to intubate him and they said all the blood work and CT of the head and chest X-ray were normal.

At first they were sure he had to have taken drugs, even though they were told he does not do drugs and then a test to prove he was not on anything. The hospital said they just didn't know what was wrong with him and would call someone in to do an MRI in the morning.

About 23 hours later, they told us he had a blood clot on the left and right sides of his lower brain. How does this happen? Why did they wait? They could have saved this young man if they had started him right away on a stroke protocol.

They tell us now he has very little brain activity and are trying to get us all to let go. Please, someone tell us there is hope. This young man was a healthy kid who had his whole life ahead of him. What do we do? He has so much love and family. They're talking to him every minute.


I am 54 years old, no high blood pressure or cholesterol, and I exercise regularly. In late August, I went in for a angiogram with possible coiling. There was no aneurysm that they were looking for and I went out with three strokes to my cerebellar area. They did not observe the symptoms and sent me home after recovering a full day from the procedure.

I was dizzy, nauseated, had a neck and head ache at the base of my skull and felt weak. That evening, I threw up all night and in the morning, I returned to the ER where the procedure was performed. They treated me for dye allergy and sent me home again. The following day I felt like a newborn child and returned to my activities. I did look in the mirror and smiled and noticed one side of my smile tilted downward, but I dismissed it. I noticed blurring in my eye and dismissed it since I got suntan oil in it. Then, I used a word that didn't make sense. I finally lay down and passed out for a few hours. I woke up and went to bed.

While lying there I felt a funny feeling in my brain and head and got scared, but it went away and I went to sleep.

The next day, I returned to the ER. Now they tested and told me I had three real strokes -- infractions if you will -- that occurred from my procedure. I am now weak and tired. I used to run ten minute miles and swim 15 laps for the fun of it. Now I am slow and tired.

This is to let you know there is a one in five thousand chance of this happening to you if you have Cerebellar angiogram procedures. Get a second opinion; it could mean your life. I didn't have the same symptoms as everyone else, and I am praising God that I didn't have what a lot of you describe above.

Bless you who are weary and heavy laden from the stroke or you are helping a victim. Our God is all powerful and is the God who can raise the dead! Have faith; you are what you think. Thank God each day for your healing and believe it. He is ever present. Peace and love to you all. Thank you God for your mercies toward me. I am so blessed.

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