After a stroke, your body will go through some significant changes. Most of these changes are physical (strokes affect mobility), but there are also some changes in how you’ll think and behave. It’s important to know what to expect to get the help you need to recover.
Here are seven of the most common ways your body changes after a stroke.
1. Decreased Range of Mobility
After a stroke, you might have trouble moving one or more parts of your body in the acute phase. It’s usually most noticeable in the arm and leg on the opposite side of the brain where the stroke occurred. For example, if a right-sided stroke happens in your brain, you’ll probably have trouble moving your left arm and leg for a while. If a stroke occurs on the left side of your brain, you may have mobility issues on the right side of your body.
However, it’s not just the arm and leg that might have decreased movement or mobility. Many other parts of your body are affected by a stroke, including your head, neck, back, or jaw. Sometimes, even drooling or having problems swallowing will be a problem in the acute phase after a stroke.
2. Impaired Balance and Coordination
If you’ve had a stroke, your brain might not be able to process the messages that your body sends it. This is especially true with balance and coordination signals from your inner ear and the muscles in your legs and feet.
You might feel like you’re always off-balance or falling when you try to walk. Walking can be incredibly complicated when you’re just learning to use new muscles in your leg that weren’t affected by the stroke. To help with this, consider enrolling in a rehab center to receive gait training for stroke patients to improve mobility and coordination.
3. Loss of Muscle Mass, Mobility, and Strength
As you begin moving again after your stroke, the muscles used will start to get stronger. However, if you don’t use those muscles within about eight weeks of your stroke, they could lose some of their strength, mobility, and mass. It’s called disuse atrophy. You’ll want to make sure you continue exercising regularly so that your muscle mass and strength stay where they should.
4. Difficulty Speaking or Understanding Speech
If a stroke affects the parts of your brain that are responsible for understanding words, you might have trouble speaking clearly. You could have problems with slurring words together or changing the pronunciation of certain sounds. This leaves people who listen to you having trouble understanding what you say.
A stroke doesn’t just affect speech. It might also be hard to understand what other people say to you. If the part of your brain responsible for processing spoken words is damaged by a stroke, you might have trouble understanding certain sounds or connecting the sound with the meaning of language.
5. Trouble with Memory and Focus
After a stroke, it’s common to have trouble remembering or focusing. You might forget certain things that just happened, or you might find yourself getting distracted very easily. Your memory and attention span work together, so the other might be too if one is affected. This memory and attention span issue is called cognitive dysfunction.
When your brain has trouble processing information coming in from your senses, it can affect learning new things. It also makes it harder to complete everyday tasks like personal hygiene or meal preparation. This is why it’s essential for you and everyone who helps take care of you to understand the symptoms of cognitive dysfunction and how to best help you.
6. Difficulty Swallowing or Chewing
Right after your stroke, you might have trouble swallowing or chewing because of the muscles on the right side of your mouth. Swallowing is incredibly complicated if you’re affected by cognitive dysfunction. It’s hard to remember everything you need to do to swallow correctly.
If food or saliva builds up in your mouth, it can be very uncomfortable or dangerous. That’s why it’s essential to keep your mouth moist after a stroke by using hydration therapies like water, ice chips, or moisture-rich foods.
7. Vision Problems
If you’ve had a stroke, the damage might be to the part of your brain that controls sight. This can leave you with visual acuity problems, meaning it’s hard for you to see even if your eyes are open and trying to focus. You could have trouble seeing details or identifying shapes.
Speech, language, and vision go hand in hand. Therefore, if you notice you’re having difficulty seeing things or recognizing shapes and colors, it’s probably because your language processing is also affected due to the stroke.
In Summary: Strokes Affect More Than Mobility
Stroke is a severe medical condition that can cause debilitating effects. These effects go beyond changes to mobility.
If you or someone you know is experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, it’s essential to seek medical attention right away.