Treatment, side effects, and timeline for left side stroke recovery
To help you heal from a stroke on the left side of the brain, we created this ultimate guide.
It will help explain the various side effects that occur after left hemisphere stroke and how to treat each one.
Then at the end, we’ll discuss how long it takes to recover from stroke.
Understanding Left Side Stroke Recovery
Before we dive in, it’s important to know that every stroke is different, therefore every stroke recovery will be different.
By understanding what the left side of the brain controls, however, you can have a better idea of what left side stroke recovery involves.
Generally speaking, the left side of the brain controls:
- Logic and reasoning
- Number skills
- Analytic thought
- The right side of the body
When a stroke affects the left hemisphere, any of these functions can become impaired.
Treatment for Left Side Stroke Recovery
Neuroplasticity is the key to recovery
While left side stroke recovery is a complicated process, the best part is that the brain already knows how to heal itself with neuroplasticity.
Luckily, the process of neuroplasticity after stroke isn’t something that you have to consciously think about. Your brain just does it – when it has some help.
The best way to help activate neuroplasticity is with massed practice. That’s why every left side stroke treatment above mentioned repetition.
When you practice a skill over and over, the brain adapts to get better at that skill.
Repetition is how you will regain your independence after stroke.
Bonus: Download our free stroke recovery tips ebook. (Link will open a pop-up that will not interrupt your reading.)
Left Side Stroke Side Effects
Now that you understand how treatment works, let’s dig into the major side effects of left side stroke.
1. A Stroke on Left Side of Brain Affects Right Side of Body
Each hemisphere of the brain controls the opposite side of the body. Therefore, a left side stroke often impairs the ability to control the right side of the body.
In order to regain movement on your right side, you need to participate in physical therapy by practicing therapeutic exercises for stroke patients.
Physical therapy can even help you overcome right side paralysis.
2. Language Difficulties (Aphasia) May Occur
The left hemisphere of your brain controls language.
So when your language center becomes damaged by a left side stroke, it can impair language-related abilities such as:
- Talking and listening
- Reading and writing
- Understanding speech and thinking of the right words
Because language is a complex function, we highly recommend working with a speech-language pathologist who can customize a rehabilitation plan for you.
If you do not have access to a speech-language pathologist, then doing speech therapy exercises on your own at home may suffice.
But at the very least, try to use speech therapy apps for some structure and guidance.
3. Verbal Apraxia May Occur
However, when left side stroke affects speech, don’t assume it’s aphasia.
While aphasia involves difficulty with language, there’s another language-related stroke side effect called verbal apraxia.
Unlike aphasia, verbal apraxia is a motor problem that impairs the ability to use your oral muscles to form words.
This often manifests as difficulty with saying words clearly but no trouble understanding others.
Focus on speech therapy exercises that train your oral muscles, like tongue exercises.
4. Difficulty Swallowing (Dysphagia) May Occur
If you have difficulty swallowing after stroke, you may have a condition known as dysphagia.
When this side effect occurs, patients are often placed on a feeding tube during the early stages of stroke recovery.
Just like language can be relearned, the ability to swallow can also be relearned. Speech therapy exercises that focus on retraining the swallowing muscles can help resolve this issue.
But in this case, it’s a very good idea to work with a speech-language pathologist. Choking is a life-threatening hazard, and you don’t want to put yourself at that risk!
5. Memory Problems May Occur
Memory is a complex process that involves many different areas of the brain, like the neocortex, amygdala, hippocampus, basal ganglia, and cerebellum.
Interestingly, these parts of the brain exist on both sides, not just the left hemisphere. Therefore, it’s unclear why the North Carolina Stroke Association categorizes memory problems as a left side stroke side effect.
Nonetheless, since memory uses both sides of the brain, it can be a side effect after a left side stroke or a right side stroke.
If you struggle with poor short-term memory after a left side stroke, try practicing memory games that involve recall (a short-term memory process).
6. Issues with Thinking Analytically May Arise
Left side stroke survivors often develop issues with logic and reasoning, a left-hemisphere function.
Sometimes this improves with time – a phenomenon known as spontaneous recovery. Other times intervention is required.
If you’re struggling with critical thinking, then spending time practicing cognitive training exercises. It may improve logic and reasoning.
7. Side Effects Will Vary from Other Left Side Stroke Survivors
Although the left side of the brain is responsible for certain tasks, 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 language is controlled by the language center in your left brain, your right hemisphere also contributes to some aspects of language.
Therefore, there is no cookie-cutter formula for left side stroke recovery vs right side stroke recovery.
Your stroke side effects will vary from other patients – even those who also suffered left-brain strokes.
It’s important not to compare your recovery to anyone else’s. Instead, focus on the next step in your unique journey.
How Long Does Left Side Stroke Recovery Take?
You’re almost to the end! So let’s briefly discuss the left side stroke recovery timeline.
Generally speaking, mild stroke takes 6-12 months to recover from. A massive stroke may take 1-2 years to hit major milestones.
However, some survivors recover slower or faster than others because every stroke is different and every personality is different.
You may improve much faster than this! A great way to speed up your recovery from stroke is to be disciplined about your regimen and emphasize repetition.
We hope this guide will helped you on the road to recovery.