A stroke is an event that happens when the blood supply to part of your brain gets interrupted. When this happens, the cells in that area can die because they don’t have enough oxygen or glucose. According to statistics, more than 795,000 people in the U.S. suffer from stroke each year. Every 3.5 seconds, somebody dies of a stroke.
While the number of stroke patients has decreased over the past decade, the number of people living with stroke-related disabilities has increased. This is because stroke can lead to long-term effects that may persist even after you’ve been discharged from the hospital.
If you or any of your loved ones suffered a stroke, it’s crucial that you learn about the potential effects so you can better manage them. Here are some of the most common lasting effects of stroke and what you can do to cope.
Muscle Weakness or Paralysis
Most people who have a stroke develop muscle weakness or paralysis. The affected side of the body will feel weak, and you’ll have a hard time moving it. The good news is that this condition usually improves with rehabilitation.
If you’re experiencing muscle weakness or paralysis, your doctor may recommend physical therapy to help you regain strength and movement. They can also prescribe medications to help relieve any pain you may feel. Try to be consistent with your therapy to see the best results.
Issues with Communication and Swallowing
Stroke patients often have difficulty communicating and swallowing following their event. This is because the part of the brain that controls these functions gets damaged. While some people may only have a mild problem, others may be completely unable to speak or swallow.
If you’re having trouble communicating, your doctor may refer you to speech therapy. This will help you regain the ability to speak clearly and fluently. You may also need to relearn how to swallow if you have difficulty doing so. Your therapist will teach you different exercises and techniques to help you achieve this.
Eye problems are another common effect of stroke. Tunnel vision, or the loss of peripheral sight, is a common issue wherein you can only see what’s directly in front of you. This can make it difficult to drive or participate in other activities.
Other eye problems may develop, including double vision, blindness, and lazy eye. These issues can be temporary or permanent, depending on the extent of the damage. If you have this problem, your doctor will likely refer you to an ophthalmologist. They may prescribe glasses or contact lenses that can help improve your vision. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the problem.
Among the latest innovations for eye problems are smart glasses, which are special glasses that have a built-in camera and computer. They can help you see things more clearly and perform tasks more efficiently. Many smart glasses makers promise a lightweight, customized, and convenient solution to patients with different types of vision impairment.
This condition can include problems with memory, attention, and executive function. When one has cognitive impairment, they may have trouble with short-term memory, remembering how to do things they’ve done before, or concentrating on a task. They can also find it challenging to plan, organize, or multitask.
Cognitive impairment usually improves over time, but some people may never regain their full cognitive abilities. If you’re having difficulty with cognition, your doctor may prescribe some medications and recommend cognitive rehabilitation. Rehabilitation can help you relearn skills and develop new strategies to compensate for deficits.
It’s not uncommon for stroke survivors to experience emotional changes. Some may feel anxious, depressed, or angry, while others may have mood swings or difficulty controlling their emotions. A recent study shows that one out of four stroke patients experienced anxiety two to eight weeks following the stroke. This is because the event can be life-altering and traumatic.
It may feel like you’ve lost control of your life. You could be worried about your health, finances, or ability to care for yourself. It helps to have a solid support system so you can lean on them for help and encouragement.
Talk to a trusted loved one about your feelings and see if they can help you better understand what you’re going through. It also helps if you can ask your doctor any questions about your emotional changes. They can provide you with resources and referrals to help you cope.
Another option is to join a support group for stroke survivors. This can provide you with some much-needed social interaction and allow you to share your experiences with others who understand what you’re going through.
These are a few examples of post-stroke symptoms that can have a lasting effect on your life. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with these issues can help you better cope with the challenges ahead. If you or a loved one has recently suffered a stroke, don’t hesitate to seek help. There are many resources available to you so that you can live your life to the fullest.