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5 Changes in the Brain Following a Stroke

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Stroke ranks just behind heart disease and cancer as the leading cause of death in adults living in Canada. More than 50,000 Canadians have strokes every year. The cerebral vascular events remain the leading reason for mental and physical disabilities in the country. When a stroke occurs, a number of changes take place in the brain.

1. Physiological Trauma

• Toxins emerge – When neurons are deprived of blood and oxygen following a stroke, the cells leak enzymes, and these chemical compounds become toxic when they accumulate. The compounds start destroying the neurons from the inside out, which causes irreversible damage and communication loss.

• Inflammation – Inflammation occurs secondary to the immune system’s attempts to make necessary repairs. When the enzymes emerge and begin damaging neurons, the immune system also emits chemical signals that alert white blood cells to converge on the scene. The area where the stroke took place fills with white blood cells, chemical compounds, and fluid that trigger inflammation. The excess fluid causes swelling and puts pressure on nearby tissue, which causes further neuron damage.

• Electrolyte imbalance – Following a stroke, calcium enters neurons. Under normal circumstances, oxygen-rich blood monitors and regulates calcium levels. However, as blood supply becomes blocked, calcium levels rise. Neurons cannot withstand the influx and respond by going into shock. Sodium levels also rise secondary to a lack of regulation. Excessive sodium damages neurons. In an effort to dilute the sodium levels, physiological actions send more fluid to the brain, which causes swelling and, potentially, more neuron damage.

• pH imbalance – As the area remains deprived of regulating blood and oxygen, the site of the stroke becomes acidic, which damages neurons and brain tissue.

2. Cerebellum Damage

Damage in the cerebellar region affects the coordination and balance functions of the inner ear. A senior may exhibit unusual reflex responses in the limbs, head, or torso or experience dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. Walking becomes difficult or nearly impossible.

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

Left Hemisphere Damage

When a stroke occurs in the left side of the cerebrum, seniors exhibit symptoms on the opposite side of the body. Depending on the extent of the stroke and the severity of the damage, a stroke survivor may experience language and speech deficits along with some level of physical impairment or exhibit slow or fearful behavior when asked to complete tasks. Long-term memory may no longer be able to retrieve information chronologically. 

Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Winnipeg 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.

4. Right Hemisphere Trauma

A stroke in the right region manifests as physical deficits on the left side of the body. Seniors may also have difficulty with analytical thinking and depth perception, experience disturbances in the visual field, exhibit impulsive behavior, and develop short-term memory loss.

5. Brain Stem Damage

As the brain stem regulates the body’s vital signs, strokes in this region are commonly fatal. Survivors often need artificial life support. They may comprehend what’s going on in their surroundings but be unable to respond.

A senior stroke survivor often needs very specialized care from someone with experience in providing support during stroke recovery. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional senior home care. You can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep your loved one safe and comfortable while aging in place. Call Home Care Assistance today at (204) 489 6000 to learn about our high-quality in-home stroke care services.