The impact of a stroke can vary from person to person, and recovery after stroke depends on how people are affected can depend on the type of stroke, the areas in the brain where the stroke happened, or the size of the area in the brain that was affected.
The brain is divided into two large halves called hemispheres.
The right side or right hemisphere controls the left side of the body and is more involved in tasks that are artistic and creative. This side also controls things like paying attention, memory, insight, problem-solving, and even understanding a joke.
The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and is involved in logic like science and math, and for most people, it helps with communication which includes understanding, speaking, and writing.
Each area of the brain also has different functions.
The frontal lobe is important for problem-solving, memory, behavior, and movement.
The temporal lobe is involved in understanding speech, hearing, learning, and emotions.
The parietal lobe is important for sensation, reasoning, language, and attention to one side of the body or your surroundings.
The occipital lobe helps us to understand what we see.
What Happens When a Stroke Occurs in The Cerebellum?
When a stroke occurs in the cerebellum, it can impact coordination, balance, and fine motor control.
In the brainstem, it can affect facial movements, swallowing, and basic body functions like breathing or alertness.
So, depending on where the stroke happens, you may have:
weakness or difficulty moving around, changes to sensation or pain in parts of the body, changes to how you can safely eat and drink, changes to memory and learning new things, difficulty seeing to one side or interpreting what you’re seeing you may feel more emotional or depressed, or have difficulty speaking or understanding what is said.
Recovery After Stroke
Recovery from a stroke begins right away.
You may attend a rehabilitation program to help you recover.
Some will continue therapy at an outpatient clinic or go to community programs to further improve. Natural healing does occur and therapy helps guide recovery through exercises and activities.
Therapy helps with what is called neuroplasticity, so your brain can change, form new connections, and learn.
Most changes tend to happen in the first six months, however, recovery can continue for some time after this.
Your therapy team can help you to find ways to do things differently after a stroke, so, participation in therapy is important, both with your physiotherapist and on your outside of sessions.
Who is part of your therapy team?
A physiotherapist helps to improve your balance, endurance, strengthening of your limbs, and manage any pain you may have.
An occupational therapist works on improving your independence and daily activities like getting dressed, cooking, and knowing how to get around in the community.
They may suggest equipment to help with these tasks.
Returning to driving, work, or school could also be a focus.
A speech-language pathologist helps to improve your speech and teaches you ways to communicate.
They may also help to manage any swallowing difficulties.
With the occupational therapist, also work on your thinking skills.
A doctor oversees your day-to-day medical care.
You may also work with a physiatrist – a doctor who specializes in physical medicine and rehabilitation.
A pharmacist helps with your medications.
Nurses help to manage your health and personal care needs.
A social worker has information about community resources and helps you to find ways to cope with any changes to your emotions.
A recreation therapist provides ways to engage in meaningful recreation and leisure activities.
And a registered dietitian advises and educates about nutrition and healthy eating.
Many of these therapists may also work with trained assistants to help you with your recovery.
What Is a Stroke?
Only a better third of people can name symptoms of a stroke.
And it’s the usual suspects:
high blood pressure, not enough exercise, high cholesterol, diabetes, smoking.
Neuroscientists are gradually uncovering the secrets of the brain.
A stroke is caused by one of two things:
a bleed within the brain, or a blood clot.
The brains stored here give us a clear idea of what can happen.
Support Person for Someone That's Had a Stroke
What if I’m a caregiver or support person for someone that’s had a stroke? What can I do to help?
Your role as a caregiver is very important and it can be hard to see your family member or friend go through these changes and know what to do to help.
Understanding the effects of stroke is a great first step.
Try to attend therapy sessions.
Talk with your health care team to learn strategies and exercises that can be completed outside of sessions Getting rid of distractions in the environment, knowing where to place yourself to help bring awareness to the affected side of the body, keeping activities simple, and having a routine allowing time and space to work on recovery are all ways a caregiver can help.
Remember: Everyone’s stroke recovery is different.
Whether you’ve had a stroke or are a caregiver, work with a health care team to focus on your strengths to get back to life.