Overview of common Impairments

‌ This information was created by our in-house occupational therapist to help guide you through the process of what happens following a stroke.  Following a stroke, you may feel like people are talking to you in a different language and it can be very scary not understanding why you are having specific problems.  Below are some ‘common’ issues and terms often used in a hospital environment.


Following a stroke symptoms can vary greatly from person to person depending on how large the stroke was.  Below is a list of some of the common impairments and what they mean.


Vision: Visual disturbances post-stroke can be perception problems or vision loss including hemianopia (reduced vision in half of your visual field), reduced visual acuity (clearness of vision) or visual inattention (where someone ignores everything on one side of their visual world)


Sensation: Differences in sensation can occur including numbness, tingling or hypersensitivity


Sleep: A stroke can impact the way a person sleeps.  This can include disrupted sleep – wake cycles, insomnia or sleep apnea


Seizures: Sudden episodes of abnormal or disorganised electric activity in the brain can be characterised by spasms or convulsions


Incontinence: A lack of ability to control bladder/ and or bowel movements


Paralysis:  The inability of a muscle or group of muscles to move voluntarily can affect any part of someone’s body.


Dysphagia: Paralysis of the throat muscles which can disrupt the swallowing process


Hemiparesis:  A movement impairment characterised by weakness or the inability to move one side of the body


Spasticity: This refers to feelings of stiffness and tightness in muscles and a wide range of involuntary muscles spasms.


Foot drop: A condition in which weakness or paralysis limits the ability to raise the front part of the foot


Fatigue: Post-stroke fatigue can significantly impair a person’s physical, cognitive and psychosocial functioning.  Post-stroke fatigue is often confused with “being tired.” It is not necessarily the same as tiredness, because it arrives without warning and rest does not always make it better.


Aphasia: A communication disorder which impairs a person’s ability to use and comprehend language


Memory: Short and long-term memory can be affected


Depression: Biological, behavioural or social factors can cause post-stroke depression


Pseudobulbar effect:  Also known as emotional lability which causes sudden and unpredictable episodes of laughing or crying.

For more detailed information please see individual information on motor, visual, cognitive, perceptual and sensory impairments.





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