Stroke Education


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Stroke Education
A to Z Glossary of Stroke Terms
Types of Stroke
Causes of Stroke
The Brain
Common Deficits
Stroke Recovery
Stroke Awareness

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Injury to the brain tissue can result in many serious physical and cognitive deficits.  How a person recovers from a stroke depends on the area of the brain that is involved and the extent of damage done. 

The brain is divided into three areas, the Cerebrum, Cerebellum and Brain Stem.


Stroke on Cerebrum

Note: The cerebrum is divided into two halves or hemispheres.

      Left Hemispere - The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. It can weaken or paralyze the right side of the body (right hemiplegia).  Stroke to the left side of the brain can cause memory problems resulting in short attention spans and difficulty with learning new information.  It may cause problems with speech and with the understanding of spoken and written language.

       Right Hemispere - The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body.
It can weaken or paralyze the left side of the body (left hemiplegia) and may cause lack of awareness and neglect of the left side of the body.  Stroke to the right side of the brain can cause memory loss.  It can cause vision problems.  

 Ischemic Stroke

Note: According to the American Stroke Association (ASA), 87% of strokes are classified as ischemic.

Ischemic strokes occur when the arteries to your brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow (ischemia).  Ischemic strokes can be further divided into the following two categories:

  • Thrombotic - A thrombotic stroke occurs when a blood clot (thrombus) forms in one of the arteries that supply blood to your brain. A clot may be caused by fatty deposits (plaque) that build up in arteries and cause reduced blood flow (atherosclerosis) or other artery conditions.

  • Embolic - An embolic stroke occurs when a blood clot or other debris forms away from your brain — commonly in your heart — and is swept through your bloodstream to lodge in narrower brain arteries. This type of blood clot is called an embolus.

Hemorrhagic Stroke 

Note: According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), intracerebral hemorrhage is the second most common subtype of stroke after ischemic stroke and accounts for approximately 10 - 20 % of all strokes. 

Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel that supplies the brain ruptures and bleeds. When an artery bleeds into the brain, brain cells and tissues do not receive oxygen and nutrients. In addition, pressure builds up in surrounding tissues and irritation and swelling occur, which can lead to further brain damage.  Hemorrhagic strokes are further divided into the following two categories:

  • Intracerebral - Caused by hypertension (high blood pressure), and bleeding occurs suddenly and rapidly. There are usually no warning signs and bleeding can be severe enough to cause coma or death.

  • Subarachnoid - Caused when bleeding occurs between the brain and the meninges (the membrane that covers the brain) in the subarachnoid space. This type of hemorrhage is often due to an aneurysm or an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).



Stroke on Cerebellum 

The cerebellum is the area of the brain that regulates all movements and maintains balance. It coordinates movements and speech muscles. Damage to the cerebellum can cause lack of balance or coordination on the same side of the body. It can also cause slurring of speech.

Brain Stem

Stroke on Brain Stem

Brain stem strokes are very rare.  The brain stem is a very delicate area attached to the spinal cord by thick nerve fibers. It controls life-sustaining functions such as breathing, blood pressure, and heart rate. A brain stem stroke that happens to this part of the brain can cause serious impairment in its life-sustaining functions. Symptoms of dizziness, slurred speech and double vision are also common. It may also cause paralysis on both sides of the body.  


Stroke Warning Signs

bullet Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body   
bullet Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding   
bullet Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes   
bullet Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination   
bullet Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

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Original date 3/1/96 Revised 9/24/14