Conditions Impacting Physical Abilities After Stroke

Updated:Dec 4,2017
Vision Disturbances
Considering the optic nerve stretches the length of the brain and every lobe of the brain processes visual information, it is not surprising that there are many stroke-related vision deficits. Learn about common vision deficits and how they are treated.

Questions about Shoulder Pain
Shoulder subluxation (separated shoulder) is not an uncommon consequence of stroke and can be quite painful. Dr. Julie Tilson, a professor of physical therapy at the University of California – Los Angeles, shared her insights on this subject.

Difficulty Swallowing After Stroke (Dysphagia) 
Nancy Swigert, M.A., member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, defines swallowing problems after stroke.

Central Post-stroke Pain Syndrome: When the Pain Never Goes Away
Mary Simpson of Grand Junction, Col., and several members of an online central pain support group, describe what their lives are like with central pain syndrome — a chronic condition caused by injury to the central nervous system. Patients may not feel any sensation in a limb when touched, but can feel constant pain. Other survivors with CPS may report reduced sensation, the inability to feel normal stimuli, while feeling a constant burning.

Keeping Your Balance
Understand more about how stroke may affect balance and tips for preventing falls.

A Toe-Curling Experience - Claw Toe and Hammertoe After Stroke
We describe several treatments for claw toe. Stroke survivor Katherine Ware found relief for this painful condition through surgery.

Foot Drop
Foot drop is one of the most common walking challenges caused by stroke. Learn what it is and how it's treated.

Controlling Post-Stroke Seizures
Neurologist Dr. Ralph Sacco provides a primer on seizures, a common effect of stroke, as well as strategies and medication used to control them.

Often described as muscle stiffness or tightness, spasticity can impact one’s ability to work towards greater physical recovery. But treatments are available to alleviate some the discomfort and limitations brought about by spasticity.

Tuckered Out? Dealing with Post-Stroke Fatigue 
Physical therapist Allison Lichy outlines this most common stroke deficit and how to reduce its impact on life and recovery. 

Maximizing Physical Recovery & Independence

Coping With Pain
Stroke survivors often experience pain after their strokes. This spans a spectrum from irritating headaches to crippling joint pain to shoulder subluxation to the often-difficult-to-treat central post-stroke pain (CPSP). For some patients, post-stroke pain may be serious enough to jeopardize their recovery by preventing them from participating in therapy. Whatever the level of pain, it compromises quality of life for patient and caregiver alike.

Reducing Risk Of Falls 
Great tips for reducing the risk of falls after stroke from the American Physical Therapy Association.

Tips for Improving Fine Motor Skills
Fine motor skills are small, precise, coordinated movements, like using your fingers to pick up a coin. Fine motor skills require integrating muscular, skeletal and neurological functions. Physical and occupational therapists can work with you to practice these skills after stroke. And there are exercises you can do at home to continue improving.

Making a Splash
Water therapy may be a good alternative for survivors with balance problems and hemiparesis. This article explores this therapeutic option and gives resources for accessing it.

Weight Training After Stroke

Some people are afraid to exercise after a stroke, but regular physical activity can help reduce your chances of having another stroke.

The AHA published a statement in 2014 that doctors should prescribe exercise to stroke patients since there is strong evidence that physical activity and exercise after stroke can improve cardiovascular fitness, walking ability and upper arm strength.

Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy
Constraint-induced movement therapy (CI) forces the use of the affected side by restraining the unaffected side. With CI therapy, the therapist constrains the survivor’s unaffected arm in a sling. The survivor then uses his or her affected arm repetitively and intensively for two weeks.

Recreational Therapy: Healing Body and Spirit
The role of recreational therapy in stroke recovery by Janice Monroe, an associate professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies and at Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York.

Harmonic Healing —  Music helps the brain and body mend
Survivor and musician John Hopkins is the focus of this issue's feature story, "Healing through Music." For John and other survivors, music has taken on a healing role, a way to get beyond their deficits and find joy where once there was only despair. A sidebar on the benefits of music therapy.

The Art of Recovery
Survivor Monty Shulberg, of England, was an audiologist before experiencing stroke following brain surgery. His artwork is bold and colorful, and one of his pieces was selected for the cover of a book of poetry edited by England’s poet laureate. Alison Shapiro was fulfilling her ambition to illustrate a children's book when she had a debilitating brain stem stroke. With determination and the support of an innovative therapist, she got back the fine motor skills necessary to paint (and finished the illustrations for a children’s picture book). A sidebar with art therapist Elizabeth Cockey rounds out "The Art of Recovery" feature.

Therapy on Horseback
Stroke survivors rarely think of horseback riding as a form of therapy, but stroke mentor Walter Kilcullen of Hackettstown, New Jersey found that therapeutic riding is a helpful adjunct to therapy for many survivors. “Horses offer a unique combination of pleasure and therapy for the rider’s mind and body. The horse’s walk stimulates the rider’s pelvis and trunk in a manner that closely resembles the human walk. This movement causes the rider’s body to react in a three-dimensional, constantly changing pattern that results in improved muscle tone, increased stamina and improved balance.”

Complementary & Alternative Therapies 
Information on a variety of therapies including acupuncture and constraint-induced therapy for aphasia.

Intimacy after Stroke
Sex is a sensitive subject for many stroke survivors and their mates. Stroke can cause big changes in the lives of couples who are sexually active. And talking about these issues may be extremely uncomfortable for some. We talked with two experts – Dr. Randie Black-Schaffer, medical director of the Stroke Rehabilitation Program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston, and Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago stroke rehab nurse Florence Denby, as well as two anonymous survivors about this complicated subject.

Tips for Daily Living
Visit this section of our site for many helpful tips and ideas from stroke survivors, family caregivers and other experts.

This content was last reviewed on 12/04/2017


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Find Support

Find a Support Group

Seeking support from others who've experienced stroke can be a huge benefit to recovery. Stroke groups afford the opportunity to share feelings, ideas and resources.  Find a group in your area.

Seeking support from others who've experienced stroke can be a huge benefit to recovery. Stroke groups afford the opportunity to share feelings, ideas and resources.  Find a group in your area.

If there is not a support group in your area, or if getting to one is just to difficult, connecting with others online is a great option.

Although everyone at the ASA's national call center is qualified to answer questions about stroke, the Warmline team members have some particularly special experience; either they are stroke survivors themselves or have a family member who is.

Call 1-888-4-STROKE
(1-888-478-7653) to reach the Warmline Team