The effects of a stroke differ from patient to patient, depending not only on the severity of the stroke and the area of the brain that it damages but also on what causes the stroke and the age of the patient that has been afflicted. As such, it is difficult to easily introduce the complications that can occur after a stroke.
Nevertheless, we’ve broken down this information below.
One of the first complications that doctors watch out for after the occurrence of a stroke are blood clots. In your time at the hospital, they’ll be watching for Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) blood clots specifically, as these can form after an inordinate amount of time spent immobile. However, regular clotting could still occur at any time. Blood thinners may be prescribed in order to reduce the risk of this particular complication.
One of the better-known complications, because of their pronounced effects, are speech disorders — the most common of which is aphasia. This particular issue occurs due to damage to the parts of the brain that is responsible for speech and language. Aphasia may affect patients in varying degrees and might even occur along with other types of speech disorders.
It’s only in rare cases that aphasia improves without treatment. As such, patients are recommended to seek out a speech and language therapist in order to help them be able to more comfortably communicate with others.
Spasticity and Contractures
According to certain research, around 30% of survivors report that they experience pain after a stroke. This comes in many forms, but the most common of which are spasticity and contractures — which come as a result of damage to the nerves that control your muscles.
The pain is said to develop most commonly in the arms and legs, and recommended treatments will vary in the form of physical therapy, splinting, and or bracing. Post-stroke pain, outside of spasticity and contractures, has also been said to take the form of tingling sensations (again in the external limbs) as well as in the form of chronic headaches and swollen hands.
Mental Health Complications
Other complications, all of which can be rounded up as issues involving one’s mental health are short-term memory, mood swings, depression, insomnia, and more. These are very common complications that can occur with any patient and is most often treated by a patient by patient bases. Some might be prescribed antidepressants while others are recommended to attend stroke support groups (in order to be able to talk to others with the same experiences.)
Lack of Coordination and Imbalance
This impairment can take the form of a variety of complications, including sensory impairment, weakness of the limbs, and lack of coordination. Most patients who experience this type of imbalance are recommended to go through physical therapy (assistive devices are also available in the interim) to prevent any accidental falls and injury.
Final Thoughts: What are the Complications After a Stroke?
Strokes, because of their nature, are known to result in quite a few life-altering complications, some of which might occur before you even come out of the hospital and other months after. Thankfully, as you might have noticed, there are many treatment plans available for the known complications after a stroke. That’s not to say that recovery will be easy, but it is always possible.
- Nesbitt, Julian, et al. “Improving Pain Assessment and Management in Stroke Patients.” BMJ Quality Improvement Reports, British Publishing Group, 11 Mar. 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26732690.