You’ve heard us say it a million times but it always deserves to be repeated: Every stroke is different, and therefore every recovery will be different.
Luckily, however, there are some patterns that occur during right side stroke recovery that can help you anticipate what might happen. Below we discuss 5 of them.
1. The Left Side of Your Body Will Be Affected
The brain is divided into two hemispheres where each half controls the opposite side of the body. Therefore, a stroke in your right hemisphere can result in weak or paralyzed muscles on your left side.
In order to regain movement in your affected side, you need to participate in physical therapy by practicing rehab exercises.
Rehab exercises are crucial for recovery from stroke because they start to rebuild and strengthen the neural pathways in your brain that control movement.
This occurs through neuroplasticity, which is the mechanism that your brain uses to rewire itself.
Each time you repeat a rehab exercise, you strengthen specific neural pathways in your brain that control that movement. The more you practice, the stronger those new pathways will become.
Repeating your rehab exercises (or other therapeutic movements) over and over and over will help you regain movement in the right side of your body.
2. You Might Have Difficulty Recognizing Faces or Objects
After a right side stroke, a condition known as anomia can occur, which involves the inability recognize faces or pictures of familiar people or objects. For example, you might not be able to recognize your sister or recognize what a hamburger is.
This occurs because the right side of your brain is responsible for facial recognition and thinking in images.
Anomia is a form of aphasia, which is something that a speech-language pathologist (SLP) is well-equipped to treat. A qualified SLP can help improve your ability to recognize people and objects.
Among other techniques, your SLP will probably put you through some naming therapy to improve your naming skills.
This type of therapy will have you identify and name common objects to retrain your brain and redevelop the skill of recognition and recall.
3. You Might Develop Pseudobulbar Affect
Have you experienced sudden outbursts of emotion, like laughter or crying, since your right brain stroke? If so, then you may have a condition known as emotional lability (or pseudobulbar affect).
Emotional lability occurs when the emotion center in the right hemisphere of the brain becomes damaged and leads to uncontrollable emotion.
Your physician can treat emotional lability with medication like antidepressants.
If you aren’t keen on taking any more medication, then you can treat emotional lability naturally by rewiring your brain to feel emotion again.
Because neuroplasticity is good for more than just regaining movement. It can be used to develop any skill you want, including the skill of emotion.
To learn more please reference this guide: How to naturally treat emotional lability after stroke by rewiring your emotions.
4. You Might Struggle with Emotions
Your brain’s emotion center is located in the right hemisphere. When a right side stroke occurs and damages the emotion center, your emotions can become affected.
Some stroke survivors experience a wild roller coaster of emotion after right side stroke (likely caused by emotional lability). Others experience an extreme LACK of emotion. Both of these situations are perfectly normal.
Whatever emotion you’re going through, trust that you’re not alone. During this time, you may find it very helpful to join a stroke support group – like the online support group we have on Facebook.
We also recommend Healing & Happiness After Stroke, a book (written by us) dedicated to overcoming the emotional challenges of stroke. It focuses on topics like self-esteem and motivation so that you can get past your blocks and achieve the recovery you deserve.
5. Your Side Effects Will Vary from Other Right Side Stroke Survivors
Like we explained in our left side stroke recovery article, it’s important to understand that the brain works together as a whole. The right hemisphere contributes to left-brain functions and vice versa.
For example, although emotion is controlled by the emotion center in your right brain, your left hemisphere also contributes to some aspects of emotion.
Therefore, there is no cookie-cutter formula for recovering from right side stroke vs left side stroke. Your stroke side effects will vary from other patients – even those who also suffered right-brain strokes.
Try your best not to compare your recovery to anyone else’s. Instead, focus on the next step in your unique journey.
Have any questions? Leave them for us in the comments below!