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Effects of Stroke

Approximately 4 million people in the United States have a history of stroke. The effects may include paralysis or problems controlling movement, sensory disturbances (including pain), and difficulties using or understanding language. A stroke may also result in problems with thinking and memory. The emotional effects are often significant -- many stroke survivors experience depression or other emotional difficulties.

Effects of Stroke: An Overview

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. There are approximately 4 million Americans living with the effects of stroke. In addition, there are millions of husbands, wives, children, and friends who care for stroke survivors and whose own lives are personally affected.
According to the National Stroke Association:
  • Ten percent of stroke survivors recover almost completely
  • Twenty-five percent recover with minor stroke effects
  • Forty percent experience moderate to severe impairments that require special care
  • Ten percent require care in a nursing home or other long-term facility
  • Fifteen percent die shortly after the stroke.
Approximately 14 percent of people experience a second stroke in the first year following a stroke.
Generally, stroke effects can be broken into five types of disabilities, which include:
  • Paralysis (or problems controlling movement)
  • Sensory disturbances (including pain)
  • Problems using or understanding language
  • Problems with thinking and memory
  • Emotional disturbances.

A List of Specific Stroke Effects

The types and degrees of disability that follow a stroke will depend upon which area of the brain is damaged. Stroke damage in the brain can affect the entire body, resulting in mild to severe disabilities. Specific effects of a stroke can include:
  • Weakness (hemiparesis) or paralysis (hemiplegia) on one side of the body that may affect the whole side or just the arm or leg. The weakness or paralysis is on the side of the body opposite the side of the brain that was affected by the stroke.
  • Spasticity, stiffness in muscles, painful muscle spasms.
  • Problems with balance, coordination, or both.
  • Problems using language, including difficulty understanding speech or writing (aphasia) and knowing the right words but having trouble saying them clearly (dysarthria).
  • Being unaware of or ignoring sensations on one side of the body (bodily neglect or inattention).
  • Pain, numbness, or odd sensations.
  • Problems with memory, thinking, attention, or learning.
  • Being unaware of the effects of a stroke.
  • Trouble swallowing (dysphagia).
  • Problems with bowel or bladder control.
  • Difficulties with daily tasks and difficulty controlling emotions.
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What Is a Stroke?

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