If you or a loved one suffered a right side stroke, then you must understand how recovery works.
Below you will find 8 common side effects in right side stroke patients and the best stroke treatment options for rehabilitation.
At the end, we’ll share how long it takes to recover from a stroke on the right side of the brain.
Let’s get started.
Understanding Right Side Stroke Recovery
Understanding right side stroke recovery can be tricky because every stroke is different. This means that every patient’s recovery will be different.
However, by understanding what the right hemisphere of the brain controls, you can better understand recovery.
Generally, the right side of the brain controls:
- Object Recognition
- Spatial Reasoning
- Musical Awareness
So a stroke on right side of brain can impair any of these functions.
This guide will help you navigate those possible stroke side effects.
Right Side Stroke Side Effects
Here are the most common side effects from right side stroke:
1. A Stroke on Right Side of Brain Affects Left Side of Body
The brain is divided into two hemispheres where each half controls the opposite side of the body.
Therefore, a right side stroke can result in weak or paralyzed muscles on your left side.
Weakness on the left side of the body is known as hemiparesis, and left side paralysis is known as hemiplegia.
In order to regain movement in your affected side, you need to participate in physical therapy stroke rehabilitation exercises.
Rehab exercises help rebuild and strengthen the neural pathways in your brain that control movement.
Rewiring your brain through rehabilitation exercises will help you regain movement in the right side of your body.
After a stroke on right side of brain, physical therapy can even help you overcome left side paralysis.
2. Difficulty Recognizing Faces or Objects Can Occur After Right Side Stroke (Prosopagnosia)
After a right side stroke, a condition known as prosopagnosia 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.
Prosopagnosia 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 after a stroke on right side of brain.
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. Difficulty Drawing Objects May Occur after Stroke on Right Side of Brain (Constructional Apraxia)
Image source: Journal of Neurology
The right hemisphere of the brain controls spatial reasoning.
So when a stroke in right side of brain affects this spatial reasoning, it can make it difficult to draw or assemble objects.
This is called constructional apraxia. An example of this condition is a right side stroke patient drawing a clock with all the numbers on one side.
Constructural apraxia is a visuospatial problem, not a motor problem. Therefore, treatment lies in correcting the vision center of the brain, not the motor cortex.
Although no treatments have been clinically proven, mental practice has been shown to be somewhat effective in treating this right side stroke side effect.
Mental practice simply involves visualizing yourself practicing the skill you want to get better at.
In this example, the patient can mentally rehearse drawing a clock, and this may improve the skill.
4. Trouble Seeing Half of Your Visual Field Can Occur after Right Side Stroke (Hemianopia)
Sometimes a right side stroke patient can no longer see the left side of their visual field after stroke.
This is called hemianopia, a visual problem after stroke.
Often, eye exercises after stroke can help improve vision loss.
When hemianopia is involved, though, more intensive treatments, like visual restoration therapy, are required.
5. Neglect of Left Side of Body and Environment May Occur (One-Sided Neglect)
A condition known as one-sided neglect, or hemispatial neglect, is common in right side stroke patients, especially if the right parietal lobe was affected.
This can cause a right side stroke patient to be completely unaware of things in the left side of their environment, and even the left side of their body.
You can help treat one-sided neglect by trying to approach your loved one from their left side to help bring their attention to that side.
Since massed practice helps rewire the brain, it’s possible to improve one-sided neglect by practicing paying attention to the left side of the body and environment.
6. Patients May Refuse Treatment after Right Side Stroke Due to Anosognosia
Perhaps the most unfortunately side effect of a right side stroke is anosognosia, a lack of self-awareness that can cause right side stroke patients to refuse treatment.
During anosognosia, the stroke patient is unaware of their stroke deficits, and thus believe there is nothing wrong with them.
According to Wikipedia, “anosognosia is sometimes accompanied by asomatognosia, a form of neglect in which patients deny ownership of body parts such as their limbs.”
Currently there is no treatment for anosognosia. However, we’re big believers in hope here at Flint Rehab, so we never take no for an answer, and neither should you.
Since one-sided neglect (asomatognosia) is thought to contribute to anosognosia, there might be a way to treat the condition by helping the stroke patient become aware of their affected limbs.
If the patient becomes aware of their affected side, and thus starts to take responsibility for their affected side, it might help treat the condition.
In the best case scenario, the right side stroke patient would eventually realize that their body has been affected and will be more willing to seek treatment.
7. Sudden Outbursts of Laughter or Crying May Occur (Pseudobulbar Affect)
Have you experienced sudden outbursts of emotion, like laughter or crying, since a right side 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.
To learn more please reference this guide: How to naturally treat emotional lability after stroke by rewiring your emotions.
8. Emotional and Personality Disorders Are Common After Right Side Stroke
Your brain’s emotion center is located in the right hemisphere. When a right side stroke occurs and damages the emotion center, your emotions and personality can become affected.
Some stroke survivors experience a wild roller coaster of emotion after right sided stroke. Others experience an extreme LACK of emotion. Both of these situations are perfectly normal.
Since personality is a person’s unique combination of thoughts, emotion, and behavior, it’s also common for personality changes to occur after a stroke in the right brain.
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 – even online support groups can be very helpful.
We also recommend Healing & Happiness After Stroke, a book that’s dedicated to overcoming the emotional challenges of stroke.
Treatment for Right Side Stroke
Although each tips above is accompanied by a treatment, we’d like to discuss the best overarching treatment for a right side stroke: massed practice.
Massed practice refers to performing high repetition of a skill that you want to rebuild.
One example of massed practice is consistently practicing leg exercises with high repetition to improve leg mobility after stroke.
Massed practice helps with stroke recovery because repetition helps rewire the brain through neuroplasticity.
Each time you repeat a task, specific neurons in the brain fire together. The more these neurons fire together, the stronger their connections become.
This is how you can rebuild most of your skills after a right side stroke.
So even when there are no clinically proven treatments for some side effects, like anosognosia, there’s hope when you get creative with massed practice.
How Long Does Right Side Stroke Recovery Take?
Every right side stroke patient will have a different stroke recovery timeline because every stroke is different.
Your recovery time depends upon the severity of the stroke.
Generally speaking, mild right side strokes may take around 6 months to recover from. Massive right side stroke may take years of rehabilitation.
Since recovery time remains ambiguous, it’s a good idea to stop focusing on how long recovery will take.
Instead, try researching ways to speed up stroke recovery.
Every Right Side Stroke Patient Should Keep This in Mind
To wrap this article up, we’d like to talk about how the brain works together as a whole.
The right hemisphere contributes to left-brain functions and vice versa.
So although emotion is controlled by your right brain, for example, 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 a stroke on right side of brain.
Try your best not to compare your recovery to anyone else’s. Instead, focus on the next step in your unique journey on the road to recovery.
By using massed practice to you advantage, you can heal the brain and successfully recover from stroke.