Post Stroke

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A stroke happens when blood flow to a part of the brain stops, resulting in damage to brain cells. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack." This can occur in different ways; the most common type of stroke involves the blocking of the flow of blood by a clot (ischaemic). Less frequently, an artery in the brain may bleed or burst (haemorrhagic). People may also experience small strokes caused by a temporary blood clot in the brain. These are called a Transient Ischaemic Attack or TIA.

A stroke may occur with little or no prior warning and they can happen suddenly. Most people who have strokes are older, but a quarter of strokes are experienced by younger people and can happen to children and babies.

What Impact Does it Have?

The symptoms and long-term effects of stroke vary, depending on the site of damage in the brain. The most common effects are:

  • Difficulties with language comprehension and retention
  • Memory loss and ability to retain information in short term memory
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Changeable emotions - people may experience feeling sad or depressed
  • Low confidence and feeling vulnerable
  • Anxiety in certain situations - for example, in new environments

If there has been an injury to the right hemisphere of the brain, typical symptoms are:

  • Paralysis on the left side of the body
  • Problems with vision
  • Quick, inquisitive behavioural style

If the left hemisphere of the brain is affected, the typical symptoms are:

  • Paralysis on the right side of the body
  • Difficulties with speech and language
  • Slow, cautious behavioural style

The recovery time and need for long-term treatment is different for each person. Problems moving, thinking, and talking often improve in the weeks to months after a stroke. A number of people who have had a stroke will keep improving in the months or years after the stroke.

How are the Cognitive Effects of a Stroke Assessed?

Once an individual has been advised that they can return to work by their medical advisers, a return to work plan can be developed to aid this process. This involves a number of different elements to identify the residual effects of the stroke and its possible effects on work tasks and working routine.

1. Screening Questionnaire - to gain a detailed understanding of an individual's
    difficulties and their medical and educational history;

2. Cognitive Functioning Assessment - to gain an overview of an individual's
    intellectual strengths and weaknesses;

3. Workplace Assessment and Job Analysis - to determine how an individual's
    stroke affects them at work and to recommend ways to address these issues.

What Interventions are Available to Assist in the Return to Work post Stroke?

Possible adjustments and recommendations may include:

  • A graduated return to work to reduce the effects of fatigue.
  • Use of a specialist keyboard, "sticky keys" functions or voice activated software if an individual has fine motor-co-ordination problems which affect their ability to type accurately and quickly.
  • Provision of a "buddy" or access to emotional support to build confidence.
  • Support training to improve memory.

Solutions and Resources:

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