What are side effects after having a stroke?
The physical damage stroke causes to the brain can have a wide
range of effects. These will depend on the type of stroke and its
severity, the part of the brain affected, the extent of brain
damage and how quickly other brain cells take over the function of
the damaged and dead ones. Around a third of strokes are fatal.
Effects may include:
- Weakness or paralysis, leading to difficulties with walking,
movement or coordination. This often affects only one side of the
body, known as hemiparesis or hemiplegia.
- Lack of feeling or loss of awareness of objects on one side of
the body, known as left or right-sided neglect, depending on the
- Swallowing difficulties, which can cause trouble with eating or
drinking. If this isn't managed, and food or liquid passes into the
windpipe and lungs, it can result in chest infections such as
pneumonia. Dehydration or constipation may also result.
- Speech or language difficulties, including difficulties in
understanding, speaking (dysphasia, aphasia), reading, writing and
calculation. Speech and language problems usually indicate damage
to the left hemisphere of the brain.
- Problems of perception, including trouble recognising or being
able to use everyday objects, difficulties telling the time and
problems interpreting what the eyes see, even when vision isn't
- Cognitive difficulties, including problems caused by damage to
areas of the brain controlling mental processes such as thinking
clearly and logically, learning, paying attention, memory,
decision-making and forward planning.
- Behaviour changes, which may include being slower to react than
before the stroke, excessive caution, disorganisation, difficulties
adjusting to change and becoming confused or irritated.
- Difficulties with bowel or bladder control (urinary or faecal
incontinence). These may be caused by a variety of different
problems following stroke and can often be considerably improved or
overcome with medical help and physiotherapy.
- Fatigue. Although a recognised phenomenon, the reason for
fatigue isn't fully understood. There may be sleep disturbance
caused by damage to areas of the brain controlling the body's
sleep-wake cycle. It could also be linked to depression.
- Mood changes, including mood swings, irritability and laughing
or crying, even when you don't feel particularly happy or sad.
Depression is extremely common, with symptoms such as loss of
appetite, insomnia, crying, low self-esteem and anxiety.
- Post-stroke pain. A small number of people develop a burning,
shooting, throbbing pain that won't respond to painkillers.
- Epilepsy affects around seven to 20 per cent of people who have
strokes. This can usually be treated with anti-epileptic
Most people who have strokes don't experience all of them. With
time, patience and specialist help many can be treated, overcome or
Short-term effects disappear with time as any swelling in the
brain goes down and the damaged cells surrounding the dead brain
cells are repaired.
Long-term effects are caused by the death of brain tissue. They
won't go away, but they can often be modified with
Physical effects of a stroke-
If a person who has suffered from a stroke has been affected
physically, they may be partially disabled down one side of their
body or all over. This means that they will need a domestic helper
to help them;
. get dressed,
. get washed,
. other personal care,
. be transported from place to place,
. cook meals,
. do the housework,
.Try to move muscles to stop them from stiffening up
. feed themselves,
. Communicate with other family members and friends,
Depending on the severity of the outcome of the stroke the level
of disability, therefore physical effects vary with each person
Intellectual effects of a stroke-
Again depending on the severity of the stroke on the individual
they can be affected intellectually. If the brain has been damaged
in the intellectual area then the sufferer may not be able to
understand things as well anymore. For a child, this means
suffering in school and not being able to learn new things. Other
intellectual effects of having a stroke are;
.memory ( short term and long term)
. ability to use learning equipment such as pens pencils