After my husband’s stroke, i knew that he would have problems using his arm and leg, but I couldn’t understand why he was so emotional. He also kept bumping into things when he tried to walk, because his balance was poor. There were so many questions about his condition, yet so few answers.
I started doing research on stroke victims and found answers that helped me care for him. When you understand what is happening to your patient, it makes it easier to tailor their care.
After suffering a stroke there are often many behavioral changes. Besides physical changes caused by brain damage, it was a surprise to see intellectual, emotional and behavioral changes as well.
A stroke affects the brain by interrupting the blood flow to the brain cells, thus causing injury. If the left side of the brain is damaged it affects the right side of the body and if the right side is damaged, the left side of the body if affected.
All stroke patients are not alike. It’s a mistake to think they are. A stroke generally won’t affect all areas of the brain or its functions equally. Each stroke victim will be different, depending on what part of the brain is damaged and the severity and type of damage. Their recovery also depends on how recently the stroke occurred and their previous personality and behavior.
While some parts of the brain will function normally, others parts won’t. Your patient may seem as capable as ever when performing one mental task, but he totally unable to handle another task of seemingly equal difficulty.
Of course, as with many illnesses, there will be good days and bad days, and even changes from hour to hour. You should ask a lot of questions of the doctor to better understand the patient’s condition and treatment. It’s hard to pinpoint all the changes that a stroke brings, so be alert to your patient’s needs and try to observe small behaviors so you can question the doctor about them. It helps to write down your questions so you won’t forget.
If there is left-brain damage, the right side of the body could be paralyzed or impaired. People paralyzed on the right side, who are also right-handed are likely to have problems with speech and language, or aphasia. The stroke victim may be able to understand what you are saying, but not able to speak or write to communicate. Most aphasic people will have some trouble with both speaking and understanding. But just because they have trouble speaking doesn’t mean that they can’t communicate. Perhaps they can write their questions and needs on paper, or use gestures to communicate. Experiment with different modes, using whatever it takes to keep in touch.
Don’t isolate your patient; treat them as though they were functioning normally. Talk with them as you are performing your duties, even though they may not be able to answer. If they don’t understand your words, try using hand gestures or other forms of non-verbal communication. If they use the wrong words, such as calling a cat “edak” or something equally strange, remember that they believe they are saying cat.
To be continued.