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  • Writer's pictureNikita Chand

Stroke: Introduction for New Caregivers

Patients that have suffered a stroke may have varying degrees of deficits that affect their quality of life, ranging from mild to severe. A stroke is also called a CVA (cerebral vascular accident). Strokes can occur when a blood clot gets lodged somewhere in the brain causing subsequent death (necrosis) of certain parts of the brain. Another way that a stroke can also occur is when a blood vessel bursts in the brain therefore leading to death of certain parts of the brain. Depending on where the injury is in the brain will determine what type of stroke deficits the patient will have to live with.

Common stroke deficits your patient may experience are: Right or left sided weakness (hemiparesis), Absent strength/mobility on their left or right side (paralysis), difficulty swallowing(dysphagia), unable to speak or difficulty conversing (aphasia). As mentioned above, these deficits could range from mild to severe, and some of these deficits may even improve over time with rehabilitation. Additionally, a person may experience multiple deficits post stroke.

It will be your responsibility to safely and appropriately care for these patients based on their level of dependency. Be mindful that after a stroke many patients will exhibit changes in their personality and mood as a consequence of brain damage. This can be challenging for many care givers as the patient may exhibit extreme emotions of anger, violence, sadness. These changes can also stem from a sense of loss of control that occurs after a stroke, as the patient is no longer as independent as they once were. If your patient has a history of violence or aggression, a care plan will be developed and implemented so that you can remain safe when providing care. Emotional lability of the stroke patient will require that you remain neutral, calm and non judgemental when providing care. If you are uncomfortable with any aspect of care you should get in contact with your supervisor immediately.

Common risk factors for Stroke are: Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension), positive family history of a stroke, atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat), High cholesterol (dyslipidemia)

Most stroke patients will commonly be medicated with blood thinners for the rest of their life to prevent the reoccurrence of a stroke. Ex. Aspirin, Clopidogrel, Plavix.

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