Stroke usually affects one side of the brain. Movement and sensation for one side of the body is controlled by the opposite side of the brain.
Changes that may happen after a stroke on either side of the brain include the following.
This is a nerve problem that can make your movements slow and jerky. There are stages of muscle tone recovery:
You may have problems urinating or controlling your urine (urinary incontinence).
These problems can be caused by damage to the parts of your brain that control your bladder. You might also have an infection.
Your doctor or nurse can help you regain your normal control.
Constipation is the most common problem after a stroke. This may be caused by lack of liquids or limited physical activity.
Your doctor or nurse can help you regain your regular bowel pattern.
You may have problems with memory, thinking, attention or learning. For example, you may:
Because of these concerns, you may do things that are not safe.
You may have reduced hand-eye coordination. When reaching for an object, your arm may waver or your hand may overshoot the object.
Watch for these signs of aspiration:
Dysarthria (dis-AR-three-a) means you have a speech problem caused by damage to the motor center in your brain. You know the right words, but have problems saying them.
Weakness or lack of coordination in your lips, tongue and mouth muscles may affect your:
If you have mild dysarthria, you may have clear or slightly slurred speech.
If you have severe dysarthria, you may be unable to move or coordinate your speech well enough to be understood. A speech-language pathologist will likely work with you.
Dysphagia (dis-FAY-ja) means you have a swallowing problem caused by weakness or loss of feeling in your tongue, lips, palate and/or throat.
You may have problems:
You can reduce your risk of choking by doing the following:
A doctor or speech-language pathologist will recommend the correct diet for you.
He or she may recommend some ways to help your swallowing. These include:
If you can't eat or drink by mouth, you will need to get your nutrients by a tube. This will keep food a liquids from getting in your lungs.
The dietitian will suggest which feeding product will fit your schedule. Tube feedings will be closely watched for any problems or adjustments.
Your ability to swallow may return during recovery. The speech-language pathologist will give you updates on your progress.
Please see the section on emotional effects.
You may find you are unable to do a task or activity for a long period of time. This should get better as you get stronger.
You can expect to be tired as your body learns or relearns how to work.
Hemiparesis (hem-ee-par-Ee-sis) or hemiplegia (hem-ee-PLEE-ja) means you may have weakness, partial or complete paralysis on one side of your body or must one arm or one leg.
You may act without planning ahead.
You may not know your own limits. You may act without thinking about the consequences of your actions. You may misinterpret situation. You may be unable to judge, problem-solve, organize and/or use "abstract" reasoning skills.
You may have poor memory. This may lead to problems retaining, blending and recalling information.
You may have numbness or loss of feeling in different parts of your body.
It is rare that a medical concern would keep you from sexual activity. Fear may keep you from being intimate with your partner. You may feel anxiety about:
Talk to your partner about how you feel. Talk about how the two of you can become close and tender again. Talk with your doctor if you are having intimacy concerns.
You may ignore or not be able to see anything toward your right. You may only eat from the left side of your plate or read from the left side of a page.
Allina Health Patient Education, Understanding Stroke: Information about Stroke and Recovery, fourth edition, ISBN 1-931876-13-4
Allina Health Patient Education experts