When you have an
ischemic stroke, the oxygen-rich blood supply to part of your brain is reduced.
hemorrhagic stroke, there is bleeding in the
After about 4 minutes without blood and oxygen,
brain cells become damaged and may die. The body tries to restore
blood and oxygen to the cells by enlarging other blood vessels (arteries) near
After a stroke, you probably have a lot of questions and concerns about how -- and even if -- you will recover. When will you be able to move your arms? Is your independent life gone forever?
It's difficult to predict to what degree someone will recover after a stroke, says Randie M. Black-Schaffer, MD. Schaffer is medical director of the Stroke Program at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. "How quickly a patient recovers in the first few weeks," she says, "can give us an indication of...
If blood supply isn't restored, permanent damage
usually occurs. The body parts
controlled by those damaged cells cannot function.
This loss of function may be mild or
severe. It may be temporary or permanent. It depends on where and how much of the
brain is damaged and how fast the blood supply can be returned to the affected
cells. Life-threatening complications may also occur. This is why it's important to get treatment as soon as possible.
depends on the location and amount of brain damage caused by the stroke, the
ability of other healthy areas of the brain to take over for the
damaged areas, and
rehabilitation. In general, the less damage there is
to the brain tissue, the less disability results and the greater the chances of
a successful recovery.
Stroke is the most common nervous-system–related cause of physical
disability. Of people who survive a stroke, half will
still have some disability 6 months after the stroke.
You have the greatest chance of regaining
your abilities during the first few months after a stroke. Regaining some
abilities, such as speech, comes slowly, if at all. About half of all people
who have a stroke will have some long-term problems with talking,
understanding, and decision-making. They also may have changes in behavior that
affect their relationships with family and friends.
After a stroke, you (or a caregiver)
may also notice: