Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. It is a fairly common disease. Therefore, it is important to know the symptoms after stroke properly and to take an action quickly.
Stroke is divided into left and right side stroke according to the affected area. There are some common symptoms in both types, but various symptoms occur depending on the affected part of the brain stroke.
To help you understand, I will briefly explain the function and structure of the brain, and then we will look at the symptoms of the left and right sided stroke.
Table of contents
- About the brain
- Symptoms - left side stroke
- Symptoms - right side stroke
- Symptoms - cerebellum/brainstem stroke
The brain roles are quite diverse like below.
- Responsible for activities such as movement, memory, sensing, language, learning, and emotions
- Regulates survival functions like metabolism
- Takes up 2% of body space, but it consumes 20% of the body’s energy!
The brain is a small organ with an average weight of 1,400g for an adult male and 1,250g for an adult female. Yet, it’s a rather incredibly complex one: made up of 100 billion neurons and 1,000 trillion synapses.
The brain is divided into 3 main areas:
The cerebrum is the biggest part of the brain. The brain is made up of 2 hemispheres, the left hemisphere, and the right hemisphere. Each hemisphere is responsible for controlling different functions in our bodies.
For example, the left hemisphere is responsible for: logic, language skills, oral function, sequencing, linear thinking, mathematics, critical thinking, and judgment/reasoning. The right hemisphere is responsible for: imagination, art, nonverbal cues, visualization, rhythm, and intuition.
Typically, if someone tends to be more creative and artistic, people often refer to them as ‘right-brained’ thinkers. If someone is more analytical and mathematical, they are usually referred to as ‘left-brained’ thinkers. Physically the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body.
For example, if the left side of the body is affected, then the stroke likely happened in the right hemisphere. What if the right side of the body is affected? You guessed it, the left hemisphere of the brain was affected by the stroke. This is called a contralateral relationship.
The cerebellum is located in the back of the cerebrum. It is called a small cerebrum and the number of nerve cells is greater than that of the cerebrum. The cerebellum is involved in controlling muscle tones, such as muscle stiffness. Since the joints and muscles of the gross motor, such as walking, standing, and sitting, are stored in the cerebellum, the cerebellum serves to control body movements.
The brainstem is located in the middle of the brain, excluding the left and right cerebral hemispheres and cerebellum. And it connects the brain and spinal cord. Since the brainstem plays a major role, the damage to the brainstem is directly related to life.
- Life-sustaining functions such as breathing, consciousness, and temperature control
- Passage function that transmits movement and sensory signals
5 Symptoms of left/right stroke
Every stroke is different and will affect people differently based on their severity. However, if someone has a left side stroke it can cause the following 5 symptoms:
Weakness or paralysis to the right side of the body
Weakness is caused by damage to the brain and not damage to the limb itself.
Aphasia(speaking, language problems)
Since the left side of the brain controls language many people who have suffered from a left-sided stroke may have difficulties speaking or understanding language, this is called aphasia.
The left side of the brain controls critical thinking, judgment, reasoning, and sequencing, therefore, having a stroke on the left side of the brain can cause someone to have varying levels of cognitive impairments.
The left side of the brain controls all oral functions which include chewing and swallowing. After a left-sided stroke one may have trouble chewing and swallowing. One may be put on a feeding tube until they are able to relearn how to swallow or chew.
After having a stroke on the left side of the brain it is common for someone to suffer from visual impairments in the right eye. It is common for someone to lose half of their visual field in their right eye which is called hemianopia. One may also present with neglect to the right side of the body which is called visuospatial neglect.
All of the above-noted symptoms of a left-sided stroke are caused by damage in the brain. In order to retrain the brain after a left-sided stroke, it is important to strengthen the neural pathways that control all of these behaviors and movements by doing repetitive exercises. The more repetitive exercises and movements one does, the stronger the pathways in the brain will become. This is called neuroplasticity.
The right side of the brain controls the ability to pay attention, recognize things you see, hear or touch, and be aware of your own body. Below are some common symptoms that right side stroke includes.
Weakness or paralysis to the left side of the body
Weakness is caused by damage to the brain, not damage to the limb itself.
The ability to recognize objects, faces, voices or places can change. It is the inability to recognize an object without visual or intellectual damage after a brain injury. In most cases, after rehabilitation treatment after brain injury, when the body's ability to recognize increases, the symptoms disappear or decrease, but in some cases, they do not recover.
The ability to recall names of everyday objects may be affected. Despite knowing the purpose or shape of the object, it’s not easy to come to mind and hesitate to say the words in the conversation. Usually, it appears and recovers for a short or continuous period due to a mental shock, and it is also a symptom that occurs frequently in early dementia and general.
Focusing attention on a conversation or tasks for long periods of time may be difficult.
Perseveration (the repetition of a particular response)
Someone may have difficulty following instructions or answering questions asked one right after the other. If you or a loved one has experienced a stroke affecting the right side of the brain, they may repeat or can’t control the speed of their answers or movement even if a new instruction is given or a new question is asked.For example, when brushing, you can't stop and continue, or you keep eating even though you already have food in your mouth. In these cases, treatment is needed with help to control behavior so that the patient can stop by verbal instructions or move on to the next level.
You may have problems judging distance, size, position and rate of movement and how parts relate to a whole.
1) Symptoms of a cerebellum stroke
Although strokes are less common in the cerebellum area, the effects can be severe.
Common effects of strokes in the cerebellum include:
- Inability to walk and problems with coordination and balance (ataxia)
2) Symptoms of a brainstem stroke
The brainstem is located at the base of the brain right above the spinal cord. Many of the body’s vital “life-support” functions are controlled by the brainstem. It also helps to control the main nerves involved with eye movement, chewing, and swallowing and maintains the homeostasis.
Examples of functions on brainstem:
- Breathing and heart functions
- Body temperature control
- Balance and coordination
- Chewing, swallowing, and speaking
So, if the stroke occurs in the brainstem, it is hard to maintain the homeostasis, and brainstem strokes can lead to death unfortunately.
The human nervous system has neuroplasticity. Damaged brain cells or nerves do not survive again, but the nerves in the intact area continue to expand and change after the acute and subacute phases (from 6 months to 1 year).
These nerves take over the information and roles that the damaged area was responsible for, and the body changes accordingly. The brain and body can change through neuroplasticity, which regenerates the brain's nerves and improves body functions through sensory and motor stimuli from the outside. This is why positive and continuous rehabilitation therapy (exercise) is needed after a stroke.
One way to continue to make progress in strengthening your neural pathways is using Neofect Smart Glove or Smart Board. These products can help the brain's ability to rewire itself and to increase the range of motion and strength in the upper extremities. The best part is that they do this with fun and engaging games! To learn more about the Neofect Smart Rehab Solutions, please call us at 888-623-8947 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- National Stroke Association - http://www.stroke.org/
- Johns Hopkins Medicine - https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/stroke/effects-of-stroke
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