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.
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.
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.
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.
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.