Right Hemisphere Stroke: Symptoms and Treatments

A stroke or cerebral (brain) infarct, as it is known medically–is when there is a blockage to blood flow to one or more areas of the brain. Depending on where the blockage occurs and the subsequent areas of the brain which are left without oxygen, the symptoms of the stroke will present according to the corresponding centers of the brain which are affected.If the right hand side (hemisphere) of the brain is affected, then the left side of the body is affected.

Could I Have Right Hemisphere Stroke?

1. Common Symptoms

  • Changes in mental acuity, like memory loss, erratic mood changes, changes in behavior
  • Difficulty in walking normally
  • Leaning towards the left side or losing awareness of that side
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Language and speech may also become impaired
  • Paralysis on one side of the body or perhaps even on both sides of the body
  • Age older than 55 years
  • History of smoking
  • Pre-existing medical conditions like diabetes, hypertension and high levels of cholesterol in the blood
  • Males or of African-American descent
  • History of obesity and lack physical activity
  • Family history of right hemisphere stroke
  • Having a lower than normal birth weight
  • Underlying cardiac problems, like valve disease, abnormal heartbeat or heart attack
  • Taking hormones like in birth control or hormone replacement therapy
  • Recent pregnancy or birth within 6 weeks

2. Risk Factors

3. Diagnosis

If your medical practitioner suspects a stroke, he will order a few tests to make a positive diagnosis, like:

Ÿ   MRI or CT scan: you will be required to ingest some contrast liquid to show the brain and related organs clearly in the images. This method will help to pinpoint the exact location of the stroke and also how extensive the damage is.

Ÿ   Arteriography: x-rays are taken of the blood vessels to show any blockages.

Ÿ   Ultrasound of the carotid arteries: this method is also able to show up any abnormalities of the carotid arteries on the image.

Seek Medical Attention When:

  • You experience vision loss or double vision.
  • Bleeding occurs from the nose or rectum.
  • One of your limbs feels painful, hot to the touch, red or swollen.
  • You experience a seizure.
  • While coughing, you notice blood.
  • You experience chest pains, dizziness or are unable to breathe normally.
  • You lose your co-ordination or balance inexplicably.
  • You experience a sudden and severe headache.
  • You become confused or you cannot comprehend speech or you have trouble talking.

Effects of Right Hemisphere Stroke

1. Left-Side Weakness

Patients will often show weakness on the left side of the body. This is because the motor control regions in the brain control the corresponding opposite sides of the body.

2. Paralysis

The level of muscle weakness experienced will depend upon the severity of the stroke. The paralysis can range from slight paralysis to complete paralysis. The paralysis will not only affect the limbs but also the rest of the body, like the face and trunk of the body.

3. Reduced Sensation

The changes in sensation can be experienced as tingling or numbness as well. The patient may also have difficulty "feeling" the position of their affected limb without taking a look.

4. Loss of Clarity with Speech

If the mouth and tongue are affected, the person may not be able to form words properly hence sounding like having slurred speech.

5. Impaired Visual Perception

The person may not be able to see things on the left of them; they may not be able to distinguish top from bottom and left from right. Judging distance may also be affected.

6. Deviations in Normal Behavior

Some experience depression, lose the ability to change their tone of voice, act impulsively, etc. Patients that exhibit the latter symptom need supervision and monitoring because they are unable to realize that their behaviors are hazardous.

7. Other Effects

Short-term memory loss can occur. The person may not be able to recognize familiar people or things.Patients may also struggle to focus their attention on a task for some time.

How to Treat Right Hemisphere Stroke

Treatment will depend on the severity of the stroke and the different body functions that are affected.

1. Physical Therapy

Physical therapy will help you regain some movement and strength. The patient will learn new skills to assist in daily life, to compensate for loss of other skills.

2. Treating Underlying Conditions

Treating and keeping any underlying medical conditions under control. This would include treatment for the hypertension or high cholesterol.

3. Surgical Intervention

A draining tube will be placed in the brain to prevent a build-up of fluids in the brain.

4. Speech Language Therapy

This type of therapy will help the patient toprioritize information and pick out the most pertinent features. They will get taught conversational cues and how to interpret them.Patients will also have to relearn how to read non-verbal cues.People around the patient will also be taught how to communicate with their loved one who has experienced a right hemisphere stroke. They will have to keep communication clear and simple and to avoid sarcasm and figurative speech.

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