Spotlight on Post-Stroke Complications

Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States. It’s also a major cause of long-term disability. The type and degree of problems that can occur after a stroke depend largely on the region of the brain that was affected. It also depends on how long blood flow to the brain was cut off. Since every patient is a little different, rehabilitation professionals must customize a post-stroke treatment plan.

Physical Complications

Many physical complications can develop after a stroke, including spasticity. This involves the involuntary contraction of a muscle, creating tightness, stiffness, and pain, and causing difficulty completing everyday tasks. Paralysis is another common post-stroke complication. It’s typical for paralysis to affect the side of the body opposite of the affected region of the brain. For example, if a patient suffered a right-brain stroke, the left side of the body may be paralyzed. Related physical challenges can include problems with coordination and balance.

Communication Challenges

Stroke survivors often struggle to communicate. Patients may have trouble paying attention and keeping their focus during a conversation. Some patients may be diagnosed with aphasia, which is a language disorder that is often linked to left-brain strokes. People with aphasia may have problems reading, writing, speaking, and understanding language. Aphasia can be incredibly frustrating for patients, as their intelligence and knowledge of vocabulary are not affected—they simply have trouble “getting the words out.”

Emotional and Behavioral Differences

Any major medical problem can certainly cause emotional difficulties for patients. However, after a stroke, emotional and behavioral differences can also stem from the damage inflicted on the brain. Stroke survivors often struggle with symptoms of depressive and anxiety disorders. Some of them may feel anger, frustration, or a lack of motivation. It’s also possible to develop pseudobulbar affect (PBA). PBA causes stroke survivors to display emotional reactions that are inappropriate for the situation. For example, they may cry at a joke or laugh at a sad movie.


If you or a loved one requires skilled nursing and rehabilitation after a stroke, call Life Care Center of Sierra Vista. They offer inpatient and outpatient rehab services, including physical, occupational, and speech therapy. You can reach them in Sierra Vista, AZ, at (520) 458-1050.