The long-term effects of a stroke aren’t just physical

Stroke is not just a geriatric issue. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, about 28 percent of the people in this state who have a stroke are under 65. While strokes are often fatal, a good number of people survive a stroke — a good number of working people, in fact, because stroke is one of the most common causes of long-term disability.

If you know anyone who has sprained an ankle, you have probably seen how dramatically this relatively temporary disability can affect the person’s life. A sprained ankle limits a person’s mobility, and for many that can be enormously frustrating — especially if the sprain was the result of a dumb accident. The point is, though, that this person’s caregiver has to deal with the physical and the emotional effects that come with the injury.

A stroke patient likely faces physical limitations, cognitive challenges and about every emotion possible. This person has a brain injury, and brain injuries are unpredictable and notoriously slow to heal.

A little background

There are three different categories of stroke: ischemic, hemorrhagic and transient ischemic attack. In all cases, the stroke interrupts or cuts off the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. Affected cells die, and the part of the body or mind controlled by that part of the brain suffers.

A hemorrhagic stroke is a “brain bleed” caused by a blood vessel rupturing. This is what happens, for example, when an aneurysm weakens an already vulnerable part of the blood vessel.

The ischemic stroke is the most common, accounting for 87 percent of all strokes, and it is the type of stroke most people are familiar with. Here, a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain.

Transient ischemic attacks are essentially mini-strokes. Like ischemic strokes, they are caused by blood clots; these blood clots, however, are temporary. That isn’t to say that the TIAs aren’t serious — TIAs may cause little damage alone, but combine them and the damage can be serious.

In our next post, we’ll talk about the effects of the stroke.


Alan Olson practices employment law throughout the United States from his offices in New Berlin, Wisconsin. Attorney Olson may be contacted at [email protected] with questions about the information posted here or for advice on long-term disability benefits claims.

Source: American Heart Association, About Stroke, accessed May 18, 2012


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