The Effects of Paralysis on Stroke Survivors

February 19, 2019
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If you are suffering from paralysis as the result of a stroke, you are not in this alone. In fact, stroke is the leading cause of paralysis with more than one-third of paralysis patients having a stroke as the cause. This translates into approximately 1.8 million stroke survivors living with paralysis in the United States alone.

What are the effects of paralysis on stroke survivors? If you or a loved one is dealing this troubling development, here are some things that you need to know.

Common Types of Post-Stroke Paralysis

Stroke paralysis may manifest itself in a very different way than for other paralysis patients such as a spinal cord injury victim. Post-stroke paralysis is usually due to damage that takes place in the brain when no oxygen reaches certain regions for a period of time because of the stroke. Generally, the damage is on one side of the brain, so paralysis is on one side of the body. The effects can range from weakness on one side to lock-in syndrome where a person can only control his or her eyes. Symptoms may include the following:

  • Hemiparesis – About 80% of stroke survivors will have weakness on one side of their body which can affect your ability to handle everyday tasks.
  • Spasticity – The muscles may be chronically contracted, resulting in stiffness. This can affect a person’s ability to walk or even speak depending on the muscles that are affected.
  • Dysphagia – Paralysis of the throat can make it tough to swallow, thereby causing everything from drooling to difficulty eating without choking.
  • Foot drop – This can make it difficult to walk since the foot drops down every time you raise your leg to take a step. It can be particularly difficult to step over obstacles and may result in a fall.

These are just a few of the many ways that a stroke can affect a survivor. You may also deal with sensory problems, balance issues, and general weakness or lack of coordination, along with additional temporary forms of paralysis that require long-term rehabilitation.

The Financial Effects of Paralysis

According to researchers, households with a paralysis patient are likely to have a lower household income. In fact, more than one-quarter of households with a paralysis patient are significantly under the poverty line with an income under $15,000 per year. These statistics show how difficult it is to find work in the US as a paralysis patient and how little is received in benefits.
In the US, more than 60% have jobs (don’t confuse this with the unemployment rate which only calculates people who are actively looking for work). However, for paralysis patients, the employment rate is a mere 15.5%. This includes the fact that more than 40% of paralysis patients are unable to work due to their health. Joblessness contributes to the severe financial effects of paralysis on stroke survivors.

Remember too that all of this is calculated before considering medical bills that may be tied to the stroke. No job or lower household income can mean no insurance or insurance with high deductibles and copays that leave the patient in an even worse financial state.

Lifestyle Effects of Paralysis

We also have to consider how a person’s lifestyle changes after paralysis. Maybe your favorite hobby was bowling, but now you are unable to use the arm that once threw strike after strike to even do something simple like button your shirt or tie your shoelaces. These changes in lifestyle can be more difficult to handle than financial troubles, and they can lead to anxiety and depression.

Prognosis for Stroke Survivors

About 85% of stroke patients survive, but only about 10% will make a full recovery. Most patients fall somewhere in between. The majority (about 40%) will experience impairments that are moderate to severe and will require care for the rest of their life. About 10% spend the rest of their life in a nursing facility. About 25% get away with minor impairments, but even these can result in depression and other complications.

The Importance of Rehabilitation for Stroke Patients

As soon as possible, a stroke survivor should begin rehabilitation so as to regain the maximum amount of mobility. The goal is to help you stay as independent as possible despite the trauma that has occurred in your body.

You may need to relearn basic skills such as how to dress, feed, and bathe yourself. Mobility skills need to be learned or relearned depending on whether you can still walk or will need to learn how to use a wheelchair. Communication skills may also need to be relearned in order to speak in an understandable manner or to communicate in other ways if speech is no longer possible. You may also find that social skills need to be tweaked now that you have to interact with people in a different way or because you feel that you are perceived differently due to your paralysis and need to counteract the stigma.

Hope for Survivors of Stroke Living with Paralysis

This site is designed, not to remind you of what you have lost, but to show you the hopeful future that you can have after becoming a paralysis patient. From inspiring stories to humor to resources for obtaining the things you need, Thriving With Paralysis is here to help improve your quality of life. To learn more, spend time on our website, read the blog regularly, and contact us by submitting the online form.

Also, I want to encourage you to check out our Free E-Books by clicking the images below:

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About the Author: Bill Davis

Dr. Bill Davis survived a spinal cord injury on November 26, 2011. After years of hopelessness he found a renewed purpose and is now on a mission to share hope and healing with the paralysis community for the glory of God.

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