Stroke is a type of brain injury caused by a sudden stop of blood flow to the brain. A stop of blood flow to the brain can happen when a blood vessel is either blocked (a blood clot) or bursts (a cerebral hemorrhage).
When blood cannot reach the brain, brain cells become deprived of oxygen and die. This causes damage to an area of the brain, and body functions controlled by the damaged area may no longer work as they did before. For example, if the front part of the brain is damaged, the face, hand, or arm might become paralyzed. If the back part of the brain is damaged, the person might have a loss of vision.
Four areas of brain function can be affected by stroke:
- Motor control (such as movement of an arm or leg)
- Sensation (such as touch, hearing, or vision)
- Communication and intelligence (such as talking or thinking)
- Personality and character (such as moods or emotions)
Often, a stroke on one side of the brain affects the opposite side of the body. For example, a stroke on the left side of the brain might cause a person to become paralyzed on the right side of the body or to become blind in the right half of vision.
A stroke on the left side of the brain might also cause problems with speaking.
MedStar National Rehabilitation Network’s Stroke Recovery Program offers comprehensive, interdisciplinary inpatient, day treatment, and outpatient rehabilitative services for stroke survivors. These services include:
- Medical evaluation and care
- Coordination with the referring physician
- Speech-language pathology, including eating/swallowing management and augmentative/alternative communication services
- Rehabilitation nursing