What Are the Effects of a Stroke on the Brain?

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A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain either bursts or becomes blocked, cutting off the supply of essential nutrients and oxygen to certain parts of the brain. Here’s a closer look at what specifically occurs in the brain after a stroke and how the brain is often able to rewire itself when an older adult receives the right type of post-stroke care.

Neurons in the Brain Are Damaged

Neurons are specialized cells that transmit nerve signals. When a stroke occurs, these transmitters are damaged because they’re no longer receiving essential nutrients or oxygen. The affected neurons starve and die, which, in turn, triggers several mental and physical changes in stroke survivors.

Different Parts of the Brain Are Affected

Every stroke survivor’s brain reacts differently, since a stroke can occur in any area of the brain where there are blood vessels. Because of the way the human brain works, the side of the body that’s most affected is the one opposite from the part of the brain in which the stroke occurred. For example, a stroke in the left side of the brain could result in partial or complete paralysis on the right side of the body.

If the left side of the brain is affected, the resulting symptoms typically include speech problems and a behavioral style that’s slower and more cautious. If the stroke affects the right side of the brain, visual difficulties are often experienced, and the behavioral style is often quicker and more inquisitive.

However, there are some common stroke effects that tend to occur regardless of what part of the brain is affected. Some of these include:

• Memory loss and/or difficulty concentrating
• Motor paralysis
• Muscle weakness affecting one side of the body
• Joint pain and/or muscle stiffness
• Heightened emotional sensitivity
• Depression (studies suggest 30–50 percent of stroke survivors experience some degree of depression)

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 Bethlehem home care service agency. Our dedicated in-home caregivers can assist with meal prep, bathing and grooming, exercise, medication reminders, and many other important tasks.

The Brain Goes into Healing Mode

Shortly after a stroke occurs, the brain goes into self-healing mode, which results in swelling and inflammation. This inflammatory response is automatically triggered by the body’s immune system in response to any type of injury, but it can impede the recovery process. However, there’s evidence that certain medications may be able to minimize post-stroke inflammation in the brain.

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 Bethlehem 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.

Affected Brain Cells Can Regenerate

Brain cells damaged by a stroke can repair themselves over time. This process is called neurogenesis, and it typically occurs steadily throughout the stroke recovery process. Brain cell regrowth can continue for several months or even years after a stroke.

The Brain Can Rewire Itself

“Rewiring” means the brain actively searches for new pathways or repurposes undamaged structures to take over functions normally handled by the parts that have been damaged. This type of recovery is more likely to happen when seniors have comprehensive treatment and recovery plans in place as soon as possible following their strokes.

A senior stroke survivor often needs very specialized care from someone with experience in providing support during stroke recovery. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality home care, Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age. To learn more about our reliable, compassionate in-home care services, contact us at 484-350-3874 today.