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Your Life After a Stroke – What to Expect?

Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju
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Sandeep Dhanyamraju MD
Medically reviewed by Sandeep Dhanyamraju

Cerebral stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability worldwide. The global incidence has increased by 25% over the past decade. We really notice it in low- and middle-income countries where treatment is difficult. Hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke is the third leading cause of death in such countries.

This condition’s physical, social, and psychological consequences are devastating. They dramatically change a person’s life after a brain disease. The prognosis of life after “a stroke” shows:

  • about 90% of survivors of ischemic “stroke” have some form of disability;
  • life expectancy after a stroke is 5-7 years shorter. 

Is there a normal life after a stroke? Is it possible to exist fully after this severe disease and long medical treatment? Can we be independent and even return to work? In this article, we give useful advice on what to do after discharge from the hospital. So read further to know how to improve health and whether there is life after a serious illness.

What to Expect After a Stroke?

A stroke is an acute disorder of cerebral circulation. It is due to a blockage, compression, or rupture of the blood vessels that carry blood to the brain. It causes brain cells to die because of a lack of oxygen and nutrients. The recovery after a stroke can vary depending on the severity of the stroke and patient’s health. In general, doctors usually observe:

  • some degree of weakness;
  • numbness or paralysis on one side of the body;
  • difficulty speaking or swallowing. 

To restore strength and function, neurologists recommend:

  • physical therapy;
  • speech therapy;
  • occupational therapy. 

Doctors prescribe medications to prevent blood clots or reduce symptoms after a stroke. Support from family and healthcare providers can be very important during recovery. So, work with a doctor to develop an individualized treatment plan and track progress. 

Besides the physical and medical aspects of recovering after a stroke, there are emotional issues. It is common to experience after a stroke:

  • depression;
  • anxiety;
  • other mood changes. 

People must seek support from mental health professionals. It is important to do this to address the side effects of a stroke and improve well-being.

Depending on the severity and the person’s functionality level, some people may need:

  • require ongoing care;
  • help with activities of daily living.

Family members or professional caregivers may need support in these areas. Changes to the home or living environment for safety may also be necessary.

The amount of time people live can vary. You can read more about the long-term effects of a stroke  below:

  • less than 28 days after a stroke, the risk of death is 30 percent (mostly patients who have had a hemorrhagic stroke);
  • after one year, it is 40 percent; 
  • after five years, the risk increases to 60 percent. 

How does a physician determine the prognosis for stroke recovery?

Stroke severity and patient age are essential factors in predicting chances. Doctors measure stroke severity by analyzing:

  • neurological abnormalities;
  • examining the brain with a CT or MRI scan.

Doctors use the National Institutes of Health Scale (NIHSS) within 24 hours of a stroke to:

  • measure neurological impairment;
  • predict chances of survival. 

Each point a patient scores decreases the chances of normal life after a stroke. The test consists of only 15 questions:

  • 0 points if the patient answers correctly;
  • 2 points if the patient fails to answer correctly. 

If the patient scores up to 10 points, the probability of complete recovery after a stroke within a year is 70%. A score higher than 35 indicates a non-restored blood supply to the brain.

Neurologists also use the 6-step Rankin Scale:

Grade  Patient Assessment
zero No impairment
the first Minimal impairment
the second Mild impairment – patients can serve themself
the third  Mild degree of disability. The patient is able to move about and take care of themselves. But they need help or advice in more complex activities such as paying utility bills, etc.
the fourth The patient is mobile but requires constant care and help
the fifth Patient is not able to move and take care of themself.

The lower the degree of impairment on the Rankin scale, the fewer side effects from a stroke.

But you may not pay serious attention to the life expectancy put forward by scientists after a stroke. even the official statistics are often wrong about who survives and who does not. Each case is unique. And many reasons influence the recovery. Both the condition of the sufferer himself and treatment and external factors. 

side effects from a stroke

Common Side Effects From a Stroke?

Among the predominant neurological disorders after a stroke are:

  • partial or complete paralysis;
  • loss or defects of speech;
  • impairment of vision, hearing, and memory.

Any brain damage is always associated with severe consequences for the person. Untimely medical care and the vastness of the lesion in a stroke result in one in three patients dying. For those who survive, the symptoms after a stroke depend on several factors:

  • the extent and localization of the brain lesion;
  • speed of care;
  • the quality of treatment;
  • individual physiological features of the patient: age, concomitant diseases, etc.

Speech impairment can also occur mostly with left-sided brain lesions. In left-handed people, right-sided stroke can also lead to speech impairment. The person cannot control his behavior and becomes aggressive, tearful, and nervous. Post-traumatic epilepsy can also develop. Read below for more details on the most common side effects of a stroke.

Paralysis or weakness on one side of the body

Depending on the location of the brain damage, a stroke can cause:

  • partial paralysis;
  • complete paralysis on one side of the body.

A stroke makes it difficult or impossible to move an arm or leg. This can also cause difficulties with balance and coordination.

Difficulty speaking or understanding language (aphasia)

A stroke can damage the language centers of the brain. So, it causes difficulty with speech and language. This can include:

  • difficulty finding words;
  • forming sentences;
  • understanding spoken or written language. 

It can also lead to communication difficulties. This can be frustrating and isolating for the individual.

Trouble with balance or coordination

Some individuals may experience difficulty with balance or coordination symptoms after a stroke. So walking or performing other activities that need balance is challenging. Physical therapy can help improve balance and coordination.

Problems with memory, thinking, or decision-making

A stroke can cause damage to the areas of the brain responsible for:

  • memory;
  • thinking;
  • decision-making;
  • leading to difficulties with attention;
  • concentration, and memory retention. 

Emotional changes

Emotional changes are definitely what to expect after a stroke, such as:

  • depression;
  • anxiety, or mood swings.

It occurs as a result of the physical and psychological trauma of the stroke. Mental health support from a therapist can help address these emotional challenges.


This condition can last a few hours to several years. Coma occurs because of damage to the cortex and subcortical substance of the brain. Some go into a coma rapidly, while others go gradually. In the second case, within a few hours:

  • the patient yawns frequently;
  • general fatigue and malaise;
  • pulse changes;
  • limbs lose sensation and mobility;
  • respiratory activity becomes shallow.

Difficulty with swallowing or eating

Swallowing difficulties, also known as dysphagia, are common symptoms after a stroke. They can increase the risk of complications such as aspiration pneumonia. Neurologists may recommend speech therapy and dietary modifications to help.


Some stroke survivors may experience fatigue or decreased energy levels. So people find it difficult to engage in daily activities or rehabilitation programs. Strategies for managing fatigue can help manage this side effect.

Numbness or tingling on one side of the body

Numbness or tingling sensations on one side of the body is common after a stroke. They can affect the ability to perform certain activities. The doctor may recommend physical therapy and other interventions to help regain function.

Swelling of the brain

One of the most dangerous manifestations of stroke. Symptoms include seizures, psychomotor agitation, headache, nausea, and vomiting against increased intracranial pressure.

Edema has two types:

  • Cytotoxic. Brain cells swell due to a deficiency of oxygen and adenosine triphosphate. As a result, membrane pumps do not work properly. Sodium ions enter the cells, and water accumulates.
  • Associated with disruption of the outflow of intercellular and interstitial fluids and blood. It occurs when capillaries are damaged.

Long-Term Effects of a Stroke

A stroke occurs when something interrupts blood flow to a part of the brain. It can cause brain damage and long-term effects. The long-term effects of a stroke can vary depending on the severity and location of the stroke.

Loss of sensation

Loss of sensation may occur after a stroke in some regions of the brain.  A typical example is numbness in the extremities after a stroke. This may include tingling sensations, poor heat/cold conduction, and more.

Vision problems

The brain also processes everything we see. Damage to the part of the brain responsible for vision can cause serious vision problems. Patients may experience partial blindness.

Spasticity and contractures

Muscle stiffness characterizes spasticity. It is what to expect after a stroke. It occurs when a stroke creates a lack of signals between the brain and the body. When spasticity is severe, it can cause contractures. So the joints become extremely stiff.

One-sided perception

Doctors call this condition – hemineglect. The patient may have difficulty perceiving the objects around them as a whole. They may only eat half (left or right) of the contents of their plate. This is because they cannot see that the other half has food on it as well.

recovering after a stroke

All About Recovering After a Stroke

A stroke occurs when tension interferes with blood flow to the brain, causing brain cells to die. Recovering after a stroke can be a challenging and lengthy process. But with proper care and rehabilitation, many people can improve the quality of life after a stroke. The options may vary due to the severe of your consequences after a stroke. If you have strong disorders, you may use passive exercises. For example, you can bring your affected arm into motion. Do it along with your shoulder with your other healthy arm. You are not “doing it yourself,” but the movement does help you achieve neuroplasticity. Electrical stimulation can also be a good solution for such people. But if you have mild or middle implications, it will be even easier to recover. You may try:

  • physical exercise;
  • mental practice; 
  • electroacupuncture;
  • mirror therapy. 

Below read some important things to know about recovering after a stroke.

Physical exercise

Physical therapy is a key component of movement recovery after a massive stroke. Your therapist shows you therapeutic exercises to help your brain improve muscle control. But remember to perform them carefully.

Passive exercise

Other types of exercises are good if you are struggling with paralysis. Usually, it occurs after a massive stroke. So, physical therapy exercises may still not be available. Fortunately, you can start with passive exercises after a stroke.

Passive exercises include movement exercises for parts of the body without effort.


Survivors who have symptoms after a stroke as paralysis can also improve their condition. They may use electrical stimulation. Electrical currents applied to the affected muscles stimulate the brain. This speeds up the process of “re-setting”. Electrical stimulation combined with physical therapy exercises will give an even greater effect.

You may use exercises after a stroke. The principle is the following: the healthy side helps the affected side. A great example is cycling. The benefits of rehabilitation increase if one arm or leg can help the weakened or paralyzed arm or leg.

Movement therapy to overcome limitations after a stroke

Movement therapy can help with hand paralysis for recovering after a stroke. It involves intentionally restricting movement in the healthy arm. This type of rehabilitation therapy is difficult. It may make the patient nervous, but some research has proven it to be clinically effective.

Mental Practice

Another great way to induce neuroplasticity is to visualize moving limbs. In stroke rehabilitation, this is called mental practice or motor visualization. This form of therapy after stroke also has been clinically proven to help improve motor skills.

Mirror therapy

Mirror therapy can help with long-term effects of a stroke. We stimulate neuroplasticity by using a mirror to “trick.” It works as follows: the brain mistakes the movement of the healthy arm for that of the affected arm.


Traditionally, people have been using antidepressants to treat depression after a stroke. But we now know that they also provide other benefits. Studies have shown that SSRIs can improve motor skills in patients after a stroke.


Survivors of a massive stroke and those who struggle can use injections. This medication helps to reduce spasticity temporarily and other symptoms after a stroke. Patients can achieve better mobility through rehabilitation exercises. However, the results bring only temporary relief.  This will help overcome the underlying cause of the spasticity. Also, it leads to long-term results.

Sensory recovery

If you’re struggling with sensory changes after a massive stroke, such as numbness or tingling, exercise can help you. They will rebuild the brain and sensory data, which can help resolve sensory problems like numbness.

Motivation is very important in recovering after a stroke. The professional approach at Lone Star Neurology can help you do just that. Our neurologists have many tools to diagnose and treat the effects of stroke. That is why you do not hesitate to contact us for highly qualified help.


How long do stroke side effects last?

As a rule, it takes from 6 months to several years. The duration of stroke side effects varies depending on the severity of the stroke. The individual’s overall health also has an influence. Some effects may be permanent. But others may improve over time with rehabilitation and medical treatment. 

What should you not do after a stroke?

After a stroke, it is important to avoid smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and not skipping medications prescribed by healthcare providers.

Additionally, it is recommended to avoid overexertion or strenuous physical activity without first consulting with a healthcare provider.

What to watch out for after having a stroke?

After having a stroke, it is important to watch out for any signs of a recurrent stroke, such as sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, loss of balance or coordination, severe headache, or changes in vision. It is also important to monitor for any complications such as infections or blood clots.

How long does rehabilitation last?

It should last as long as it has an effect. The early recovery period up to six months is the most “responsive”, after six months to two years is the late recovery period. It is believed that two years after a stroke there are things that will not change – the so-called residual effects.

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Edward Medina
Edward Medina
15:34 30 Jun 22
Just such an amazing staff that makes you feel like part of their family. I’ve been going there for over 5 years now... and each visit I get the very best care and treatments that I have ever received in the 20+ years that I’ve been dealing with severe debilitating migraines. Since i started seeing them the number of my migraines has dropped from 15-20 a month to 2-3 every 3 month. I highly recommend them …they will change your life!read more
Daneisha Johnson
Daneisha Johnson
22:20 19 May 22
Dr. Askari was very kind and explained everything so I could understand. The other staff were nice as well. I would... have gave 5 stars but I was a little taken aback when I checked in and had to pay 600.00 upfront. I think that should have been discussed in a appointment confirmation call or email just so I could have been more
Jean Cooper
Jean Cooper
16:54 29 Apr 22
I love the office staff they are friendly and very helpful. Dr. JODIE is very caring and understanding to your needs... and wants to help you. I will go back. would recommend Dr. Dr. Jodie to other Patients in a heart beat. The team works well more
Linda M
Linda M
19:40 02 Apr 22
I was obviously stressed, needing to see a neurologist. The staff was so patient and Dr. Ansari was so kind. At one... point he told me to relax, we have time, when I was relaying my history of my condition. That helped ease my stress. I have seen 3 other neurologists and he was the only one who performed any assessment tests on my cognitive and physical skills. At one point I couldn't complete two assessments and got upset and cried. I was told, it's OK. That's why you're here. I was truly impressed, and super pleased with the whole experience!read more
Leslie Durham
Leslie Durham
15:05 01 Apr 22
I've been coming here for about 5 years. The staff are ALWAYS friendly and knowledgeable. The Doctors are the absolute... best!! Jodie Moore is always in such a great mood which is a plus when you are already stressed. Highly recommendedread more
Monica Del Bosque
Monica Del Bosque
14:13 25 Mar 22
Since my first post my thoughts have changed here. It's unfortunate. My doctor and PA were great, but the office staff... is horrible. They never call you back when they say they will, they misinform you, they cause you too much stress wondering what's going on, they don't keep you posted. They never answer the phone. At this point I've left four messages in the last week, and I have sent three messages. Twice from their portal and one direct email. No response. My appointment is on Monday morning at 8:30am, no confirmation on my insurance and what's going on. What the heck is going on, this is ridiculous!I've given up... the stress her office staff has put me through is just not worth it. You can do so much better, please clean house, either change out your office staff, or find a way for them to be more efficient please. You have to do something. This is not how you want to run your practice. It leaves a very bad impression on your more
Ron Buckholz
Ron Buckholz
23:32 23 Mar 22
I was actually pleasantly surprised with this visit! It took me a long time to get the appointment scheduled because no... one answers your phones EVER! After a month, I finally got in, and your staff was warm, friendly, and I was totally impressed! I feel like you will take care of my needs!read more
Steve Nabavi
Steve Nabavi
16:28 16 Mar 22
It was a nice visit. Happy staff doing all they can do to comfort the patients in a very calming environment. You ask... me they are earned a big gold star on the fridge. My only complaint they didn't give me any more
Katie Lewis
Katie Lewis
16:10 10 Feb 22
Had very positive appointments with Jodie and Dr. Sheth for my migraine care. Jodie was so fast with the injections and... has so much valuable info. I started to feel light headed during checkout and the staff was SO helpful—giving me a chair, water, and taking me into a private room until I felt better. Highly recommend this practice for migraine patients, they know what they’re doing!!read more
Joshua Martinez
Joshua Martinez
16:02 10 Dec 21
I was scheduled to be checked and just want to say that the staff was fantastic. They were kind and helpful. I was... asked many questions related to what was going on and not once did I feel as though I was being brushed off. The front desk staff was especially great in assisting me. I'm scheduled to go back for a mri and am glad that I'll be going more
Isabel Ivy
Isabel Ivy
21:42 03 Nov 21
I had such a good experience with Lone Star Neurology, Brent my MRI Tech was so awesome and made sure I was very... comfortable during the appointment. He gave me ear plugs, a pillow, leg support and blanket, easiest MRI ever lol 🤣 My 72 hour EEG nurse Amanda was also so awesome. She made sure I was take care of over the 3 days and took her time with the electrodes to make sure it was comfortable for me! Paige was also a huge help in answering all my questions when it came to my test results, and letting me know her honest opinions about how I should go forth with my more
Leslie Luce
Leslie Luce
17:37 20 Oct 21
The professionalism and want to help attitude of this office was present from the moment I contacted them. The follow... up and follow through as well as their willingness to find a way to schedule my dad was above and beyond. We visited two offices in the same day with the same experience. I am appreciative of this—we spend a lot of time with doctors and this was top notch start to more
robert Parker
robert Parker
16:38 16 Apr 21
I love going to this office. The staff is friendly and helpful. The doctor is great. I am getting the best... neurological tests and treatment I have ever had. The only reason I did not give them a 5 star rating is because it is impossible to reach a live person at the office to reschedule appointments. Every time I have tried to get through to the office it says all people are busy and I am sent to a voicemail. If they could get their phone answering fixed, I would give them a strong 5 more
MaryAnn Hornbaker
MaryAnn Hornbaker
00:26 25 Feb 21
Dr. Harney is an excellent Dr. I found him friendly , personable and thorough. I evidently am an unusual case. ... Therefore he spent a Hugh amount of time educating me. He even gave me literature to further explain my condition and how to follow up. This is something you rarely get from your doctors. So I am more than please with my doctor and his more
Roger Arguello
Roger Arguello
03:05 29 Jan 21
Always courteous, professional. The staff is very friendly and always work with you to find the best appointment time.... The care team has been great. Always taking the time to listen to your concerns and to find the best more
Margaret Rowland
Margaret Rowland
01:12 27 Jan 21
I have been a patient at Lone Star Neurology for several years. Now both my adult daughters also are patients there. I... love Jodie. She is always so prompt whether it is a teleamed call are a visit in the office. She takes the time to explain everything to me and answers all my questions. I am so blessed to have Jodie as my more
Susan Miller
Susan Miller
03:01 13 Jan 21
My husband had an accident 5 years ago and Lone Star Neurology has been such a blessing to us with my husbands care.... Jodie Moore is his provider and she is amazing! Jodie is very knowledgeable, caring, and thorough. She takes her time with you, making sure your needs are met and she is happy to answer any questions you may have. Lone Star Neurology’s patients are very lucky to have Jodie providing their care. Thank you Lone Star Neurology and especially Jodie for everything you have done for us. Jodie, you are the best!read more
Windalyn C
Windalyn C
01:32 09 Jan 21
Jodie is wonderful. She is very caring and knowledgeable. I have been to over a dozen neurologists, and none were able... to help me as much as they have here. Thanks!read more
Katie Kordel
Katie Kordel
00:40 09 Jan 21
Jodi Moore, nurse practitioner, is amazing. I have suffered from frequent, debilitating headaches for almost 20 years.... She has provided the best proactive and responsive care I have ever received. My quality of life has been greatly improved by her caring approach and tenacity in finding more
Ellie Natsis
Ellie Natsis
15:41 07 Jan 21
I have had the best experience at this neurologist's office! For over a year I have been receiving iv treatments here... each month and my nurse, Bobbie is beyond wonderful!! She's so attentive, knowledgeable, caring, and detail oriented. She makes an otherwise uncomfortable experience much more pleasant and definitely puts me at ease! She also helps me with my insurance,ordering this specialty medication and dealing with the ordering process which is no easy feat.Needless to say, she goes above a beyond in every way and I'm so grateful to this office and to Bobbie for all they do for me!read more
Matt Morris
Matt Morris
15:39 07 Jan 21
Let me start by saying that I have been coming here for years. Due to my autoimmune disease, I am in this office... once every three weeks for multiple hours at a time. The office is very clean and the staff very friendly. My only complaint would be there communication via phone. They aren't the best at responding if you leave a voicemail and expect a call back. I understand that this is prob just due to the sheer number of alls they receive daily. What I can say I like the best about the office are the people. Bobby who handles my infusions is great. I never have any issues with her setting up my infusions. She is very quick to reply to messages sent via text and if she were to leave then my whole opinion of the office may change. I also enjoy people like Matt, Lauren, and Jodi. I appreciate all that they do for me and without this team I'm not sure I would be as happy as I am to visit the office as frequently as I have to. Please ensure that these folks are recognized as they are what makes my visit to this office so tolerable :).read more
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  1. 22/03/2024

    Interesting article I had a TBI /stroke on 26 December 2023, and was discharged from Hospital on 31st December 2023. With Acute Left Cerebellar infarction. It came out of no where and brought on vomiting and symptom’s of vertigo. On release I was having trouble standing and walking and my wife was pushing me around in a wheel chair. The hospital staff told me that I would be unlikely to walk again. Start the New Year and welcomed it in with push ups, The Physio’s told me to aim for 20 paces with the help of a stick, 6 weeks later me and my stick were at 6 miles, I learnt that confusion seemed to be my biggest barrier I now tab up to 5 miles still with stick but have added a 20 kilo load, I also learnt to write again which I found was really difficult probably because I wasn’t that smart or good at it before the stroke. I walk every day from 4 – 9 miles normally in two sessions sometimes with an added 20 kilo load which I am working on. I don’t have anything to useful to add but please don’t give in, make everything a fight, fight for your life at least you will know you did your very best and that’s all anyone can ask of of you. When my wife was wheeling me out of the hospital she told me you have survived worse fights than this, you got shot and got up time now to crack on and put the effort in as you have never done pity parties before why change now. In closing I wish you all well, you have to be in the fight to win the fight! Its your fight do your best. John

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