Strokes are one of the leading causes of long-term adult disability. The brain is an extremely complex organ that controls a variety of bodily functions. The effects of a stroke depend primarily on the location of the obstruction and the extent of brain tissue affected.
Every stroke is unique in that the types and degrees of disability following a stroke depend on the area of the brain that was damaged.
What disabilities can result from a stroke?
Generally, it can cause five types of disabilities: paralysis or problems controlling movement; sensory disturbances including pain; problems using or understanding language; problems with thinking and memory; and emotional disturbances.
Paralysis and numbness
Paralysis is one of the most common disabilities resulting from stroke and may affect individual parts, or the entire side of the body. As a result, sufferers may have difficulty with everyday activities such as coordinating movement. Moreover, some patients even experience numbness in the effected limbs.
Sensory disturbances and pain
Sensory deficits may cause survivors to lose the ability to feel, pain, touch and temperature, as well as recognising objects they are holding. Moreover, some patients experience pain and at times, tingling or prickling sensations in paralysed or affected limbs as well as headaches.
Another possible disturbance which may be emotionally difficult to deal with is the loss of bowel control immediately after a stroke. Luckily, permanent incontinence is fairly uncommon in survivors.
There are also a variety of chronic pain syndromes, some resulting from stroke-induced damage to the nervous system, while others may be due to a prolonged lack of movement in a muscle or joint.
A stroke-induced injury to any of the brain’s language-control centres can lead to mild to serious language impairment, involving the ability to speak and convey ones thoughts coherently, write and understand others. In cases of ‘Global Aphasia’ – the most severe form of language impairment, individuals lose nearly all their linguistic abilities.
Problems with thinking and memory
Stroke can also cause damage to parts of the brain responsible for memory, attention and awareness, posing challenges to patients attempting to carry out a complex mental or physical activity.
The above-mentioned sudden physical and mental losses may cause survivors to feel stricken by fear, anxiety, frustration and a sense of grief. These feelings are a natural response to the psychological trauma of stroke and need to be addressed as part of the rehabilitative process.
The effects of brain damage may even lead to personality changes or eventual clinical depression appears to be the most commonly experienced emotional disorder among stroke survivors which may be manifested as social withdrawal, changes in eating and sleep patterns, irritability and even suicidal thoughts.
Due to the discussed wide array of symptoms a stroke may cause, daily actions such as eating and drinking may pose challenges.
If you know someone who has suffered a stroke and is in need of long term care, get in touch with CareMalta for further information on how we can help.