Your Brain And Stroke Symptoms And Recovery

The effects of a stroke look different among different stroke survivors, and that’s because each stroke is unique to the person who experienced it. Your brain biology plays a major role in determining the effects of a stroke, as well as the most appropriate stroke rehabilitation strategies.

How Affected Areas of the Brain Influence Post-Stroke Functioning

In addition to the type of stroke you experience, the location of the stroke dictates the types of post-stroke issues that a stroke survivor experiences. For example, strokes in the following areas of the brain will be associated with specific types of functional impairments:

  • Frontal lobe – Limitations in executive functioning, such as problem-solving, personality changes
  • Parietal lobe – Language issues (difficulty speaking, writing or reading) and difficulty interpreting sensory inputs
  • Occipital lobe – Vision issues, such as central vision loss or hallucinations
  • Hippoocampus – Deficits in memory and spatial orientation
  • Cerebellum – Voluntary movement issues like coordination, muscle control and balance difficulties

In addition to the affected area of the brain, the severity of damage and your level of health prior to the stroke contribute to your symptoms and may indicate the most appropriate course of stroke rehabilitation. Additionally, the affected hemisphere (left brain vs. right brain) can also determine symptoms, as each hemisphere oversees different functions.

What Is Neuroplasticity And Why Does It Matter To Stroke Survivors?

According to Oxford Languages, neuroplasticity is defined as “the ability of the brain to form and reorganize synaptic connections, especially in response to learning or experience or following injury.” Those synaptic connections influence basically everything we do. Many strokes damage at least some of those connections, which, in turn, negatively affects functioning. However, new connections can form due to the brain’s neuroplasticity to regain some of that functioning or learn new ways of doing things. Accordingly, neuroplasticity facilitates the patient’s ability to achieve stroke rehabilitation treatment goals. How can you leverage neuroplasticity as a powerful tool in your stroke rehabilitation? Consider these tips:

  • Start immediately because neuroplasticity is most powerful in the immediate aftermath of the stroke
  • Expose yourself to novel activities to create new neural circuits
  • Repeat those new activities often in order to reinforce your brand new neural circuits

Knowing the specific area of your brain that was affected by your stroke can help your care team direct your stroke rehabilitation and can also help you manage your expectations. Furthermore, your brain’s unique ability to rewire itself can support your successful stroke recovery.