What Changes Occur in the Brain Following a Stroke?

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If you have a senior loved one who has recently survived a stroke, it can be helpful to know specifically how strokes affect the brain so you can have a better idea of what to expect during recovery. The damage from a stroke occurs because a blood vessel bursts or becomes blocked. The good news is that the human brain has remarkable healing capabilities. Below you’ll find details about how the brain changes after a stroke.

Nerve Signal Transmitters Are Damaged

The first change that takes place in the brain when a stroke occurs is damage to nerve impulse transmitters called neurons. These specialized cells are important because they send the signals needed for different parts of the brain to function. Thus, the neuron damage contributes to the physical and cognitive symptoms associated with a stroke.

The effects of a stroke can make it difficult for seniors to live at home safely without a caregiver close by at all times. Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Galt Ocean Mile live-in care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or is recovering from a stroke, you can trust the professional live-in caregivers from Home Care Assistance to enhance his or her quality of life.

Right/Left Brain Functions Are Affected

The specific way the brain changes after a stroke will depend on which side is directly affected. If the right side of your loved one’s brain is affected, he or she will likely experience vision impairment, weakness on the left side of the body, and impulsive behavior. If the left side of the brain is affected, your loved one may have weakness on the right side, language and speech impairment, and slow actions or behaviors.

Certain Common Changes Occur

Regardless of which area of the brain is affected, there are some changes that tend to affect most stroke survivors. Many of these common issues will eventually get better over time with proper treatment and rehabilitation. The major ones include:

• Weakness and/or paralysis
• Balance and coordination problems
• Urinary or bowel incontinence
• Speech problems and/or difficulty swallowing
• Memory problems that may be coupled with problem-solving difficulties

The part of the brain that controls how limbs are positioned can also be affected by a stroke. This is referred to as spasticity. It means limbs may change position, shorten, or become stiff and painful. Medication and physical therapy often help with this stroke-related change.

Stroke survivors who recover at home often need help with the everyday tasks of life. Many seniors prefer aging in place over moving to an assisted living facility. If your senior loved one needs assistance to remain safe and comfortable while living at home, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading Ft. Lauderdale in-home care agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks.

Inflammation Kicks In

After a stroke occurs, the brain goes into healing mode. The immune system attempts to protect injured areas of the brain by triggering inflammation. While this is a normal and generally beneficial response to injury, it can also slow or impede the healing and recovery processes. However, certain medications can reduce post-stroke inflammation.

The Brain Produces New Cells and “Rewires” Itself

Two other ways the brain changes after a stroke are actually very helpful for stroke survivors. First, brain cells can regrow during the initial recovery process and even for several months or years afterward. This cell regrowth process is known as neurogenesis.

Aggressive treatment and ongoing therapy can also help the brain reassign functions previously carried out by the damaged parts of the brain to other areas that are undamaged and healthy. This is referred to as “rewiring,” a process that can be helped along with a comprehensive post-stroke treatment plan. 

Senior stroke survivors often need very specialized assistance from caregivers who have experience in providing support during stroke recovery. The type of elder care seniors need can vary. Some need assistance a few hours a day, while others require more extensive around-the-clock assistance. At Home Care Assistance, we tailor our care plans based on each senior’s individual care needs, and the plans can be adjusted at any time. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (954) 909-0370 to learn more about our high-quality home care services.