How Does the Brain Change Following a Stroke?

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How Brain is Affected Following a Stroke in Orlando, FL

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports more than 795,000 people in the United States have strokes each year. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., as the condition claims an estimated 140,000 American lives annually. Time is of the essence when a person exhibits symptoms of a stroke. Every minute that passes without medical intervention leads to millions of neurons dying from oxygen deprivation. Strokes cause a number of physiological changes in the brain, some of which are explained below.

Physiological Ramifications

Once blood stops flowing to the affected area of the brain, toxic enzymes form within the cells, causing their destruction. These compounds leach out and begin affecting nearby cells, which exacerbates the damage. When the toxins appear, the immune system becomes alerted and sends white blood cells and chemical compounds to the area, producing inflammation. Fluid accumulates and causes swelling, which puts more pressure on the delicate tissues and causes further damage.

When fragile blood vessels in the brain incur damage, they leak blood and electrolytes, including calcium. The excessive amount of calcium causes shock in the cells. Likewise, sodium levels increase, which in turn draws more fluid to the brain in the body’s attempt to create a balance. Without sufficient oxygen and other compounds to maintain the proper pH balance, the damaged area becomes acidic, and a toxic environment develops. A stroke also causes an influx of free radicals, which are associated with cellular damage and destruction. 

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 Windermere 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. 

Outward Signs

When neurons in the brain become damaged or die, they can no longer communicate with other neurons to send messages throughout the body. As such, stroke survivors exhibit various physical symptoms related to the area that’s been damaged. When the event occurs on the right side of the brain, the senior exhibits weakness on the left side of the body. The left side of the face may droop. Vision may be impaired. The senior may lose sensation as well as the ability to control the limbs on the affected side. Strokes in this region might also cause stroke survivors to exhibit behavioral symptoms such as overconfidence or impulsivity.

Strokes that occur on the left side of the brain affect the right side of the body. In addition to having physical deficits, survivors of these types of strokes often experience language or speech impairment. Their thinking and acting responses might also be slower than normal. 

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

Non-Use Phenomenon

A stroke survivor who has a one-sided deficit may develop a condition known as “learned non-use,” which causes the senior to accept the physical impairment and restrict movement to the unaffected side of the body. Advanced physical therapy is required for the brain to reestablish neural connections for the affected areas to become functional.

Spastic Movements

Partial damage to muscle groups causes weakness and diminished ability to control movement. The result involves involuntary spasms or tremors when attempting to use affected body parts. The neck, arms, and legs on the affected side might also become painful and stiff. Without use, the muscles contract, which causes limb shortening.

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. If your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at (407) 232-7155.

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