Whether you’re awake or asleep, your brain is continuously active. Vast amounts of information—thoughts, moments, feelings, etc.—are sent to your brain, where they are filtered and stored, and it’s important for your brain to be working properly in order to place them in the right spots.
After surviving a stroke, there is a possibility that some of the brain’s vital functions could be damaged, which makes its processes more difficult to carry out, potentially causing harmful issues for the patient. In many stroke cases, issues with thinking and memory are likely to occur, but there are ways to rebuild brain power and regain a healthy lifestyle over time.
Common Problems After a Stroke
Due to physical trauma to the brain, it’s common to experience a variety of issues. Daily actions, like executing a simple task or reacting to external situations, can become difficult to navigate. These kinds of challenges may include watching a television show, reading a book, following through with a task from start to finish, remembering what others have just told you, troubles with directions, executing simple instructions, and even cooking for yourself. If these don’t sound cumbersome enough, along with a slew of physical hurdles lies a deeper obstacle of impaired cognition.
Continue reading our previous post Most Common Questions Answered for more common stroke recovery questions & answers.
Cognitive Problems After a Stroke
Impairments dealing with cognition refer to mental actions and operations that the brain cannot fully sort out. Basically, there is a lack of communication when it comes to gaining information and understanding through vital pathways—thoughts, experiences, and the senses. Because of this, a stroke survivor can possibly mimic symptoms of someone who has dementia or memory loss.
Depending on which side of the brain is most affected by a stroke, different symptoms can occur. For example, someone with a right-brain stroke can exhibit complications with problem solving. In addition, they may confuse information or muddle up the order of details of an event. For those who are left-brain impacted, there may be a significant change to their short-term memory. In this case, a survivor may have a hard time learning new things and will most likely have to be reminded of something many times. That being said, there are ways to help improve cognitive abilities with patience and repetition, and it all starts with rebuilding memory.
Memory Loss After a Stroke
Not only is it common for stroke survivors, but memory loss can be an issue for anyone. Factors like old age and physical accidents can contribute to its deterioration, so understanding its processes can provide a better scope of what to expect.
- Difficulty speaking and understanding language
- Visual confusion with faces, objects, and directions
- Trouble with new information and tasks
- Inability to think clearly
Although these issues may seem challenging, keep in mind that one’s memory has the capability to heal itself over time with the help of mental exercises. Daily routines of mental stimulation may aid in rebuilding awareness and focus, and the best part is that these activities can be enjoyable. There are ways to incorporate a variety of exercises into your life that can make a big difference towards a healthy recovery. Remember, memory symptoms have the potential to last for years, so it’s unlikely that progress will be made overnight, but consistency can set the pace for improvement.
Something else to keep in mind is that techniques for improving after memory loss are considered experimental. In most stroke cases, treatments are designed to help prevent further damage, so if you or a loved one feel like treatments aren’t working, consult with your doctor about taking medications that may assist in rehabilitation.
Ways to Stimulate the Brain
The good news is that there are many options to increase your brain power, and they are all useful in more ways than one! For instance, taking up a new hobby that involves both the mind and body is a great way to work your brain muscles. In addition, performing various physical movements shows a huge correlation with growth in mental and physical strength. Along with these methods, great improvements of mental health can be made by following a routine. Simple tasks like writing things down, designating certain spots for items, and overall repetition provide stability and reassurance.
Rather than focusing all your attention on classic methods of brain stimulation, try technology; it can be an immediate and fun way to see results. On a smartphone or tablet you’ll find countless apps available that can help improve memory and speech, set reminders for medications and appointments, and help manage other illnesses or issues that you may have. With today’s growing technology, apps are both widely accessible and easy to use, giving you freedom to develop your own regiment of “app rehab.”
Here are some of our favorite apps to try out:
What’s the Difference?
In this game, two pictures will appear on the screen, and it’s your job to use your finger and circle any differences you spot on the image below compared to the image above. As you move from one level to the next, the differences will be harder to find! This game will improve your awareness and perception skills with every round.
Thinking Time Pro
Designed by Harvard and UC Berkeley neuroscientists, this app uses four different scientific games to enhance your memory, attention, reasoning, and overall cognitive skills. The best part about this app is that you can set the difficulty level to move at your own pace.
Fit Brains Trainer
Ranked as one of the best educational apps in the world, Fit Brains Trainer stimulates your cognitive and emotional intelligence through a variety of brain games, workout sessions, and personalized status reports based on your performance.
For the ultimate boost in memorization, Eidetic utilizes a technique known as “spaced repetition” to aid you in memorizing loads of information. Whether you want to remember someone’s phone number or a recipe you just found online, this app will do the trick.
Support Leads to Progress
If you or a loved one is suffering from issues pertaining to thinking and memory, know that there are treatments out there to make improvements. With patience and understanding, a stroke survivor can eventually reach a level of fulfillment in life, but it’s difficult to get there alone. More than anything, a survivor will need encouragement in order to believe that progress can be made. With the support of friends and family, and help from various exercises and technologies, development is certainly possible