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Parietal Lobe Stroke: Understanding the Secondary Effects & Recovery Journey

medical illustration of brain with parietal lobe highlighted in upper center portion

A stroke in the parietal lobe can affect the brain’s ability to interpret sensory information and spatial awareness. As a result, parietal lobe stroke patients often struggle with piecing together their experiences.

This article will explain everything you need to know about parietal lobe stroke. Although every stroke is different, we hope this guide helps paint a picture of what the road to recovery may look like.

When Stroke Affects the Parietal Lobe

A stroke in the parietal lobe occurs when a blood vessel in the parietal lobe either gets clogged by a blood clot (an ischemic stroke) or the blood vessel bursts (a hemorrhagic stroke).

Oxygen fuels cell activity. Without enough blood supply, brain cells will start to die, and the parietal lobe will begin to lose control of its function. Immediate medical attention is essential for reducing disability and the other effects of parietal lobe stroke.

Like most other areas of the brain affected by stroke, the parietal lobe is split into two halves that control different functions. Next, we will discuss the possible effects of a parietal lobe stroke based on the hemisphere affected.

Secondary Effects Depend on the Hemisphere Affected

parietal lobe stroke will have various effects depending on which side of the brain is affected

A parietal lobe stroke will primarily affect sensory interpretation and spatial awareness. However, effects of the stroke will greatly depend upon the side of the brain that the stroke occurs: your dominant or non-dominant side.

Everyone has a dominant side of the brain. If you’re left-handed, the right side of your brain is probably dominant, and if you’re right-handed, the left side of your brain may be dominant. However, the connection between handedness and brain dominance is somewhat controversial and not well understood.

You can expect different outcomes following a parietal lobe stroke depending on which hemisphere the stroke occurred in.

However, it’s also important to understand that these outcomes are not limited to just one part of the brain. Many functions require both hemispheres and multiple areas of the brain to work together.

When Your Dominant Side is Affected

If you are right-handed, then the left side of your brain is dominant. When the dominant parietal lobe is affected by stroke, the following effects may occur:

  • Agnosia: when the patient cannot recognize and identify objects, people, or sounds using their senses, even when the senses are otherwise functioning normally (it’s an issue with the brain, not the senses)
  • Difficulties differentiating between left and right
  • Agraphia: difficulty communicating through writing, either from motor issues or inability to spell.
  • Alexia: partial or complete inability to read. A Speech-Language Pathologist can help diagnose this issue.
  • Acalculia: loss of ability to perform simple math problems. A problem particularly associated with parietal lobe stroke in the left side (which is usually the dominant side in most people).
  • Aphasia: difficulty communicating through speech. There are different types of aphasia, and a Speech-Language Pathologist can help diagnose.
  • Proprioception disorders: difficulties sensing where your body parts are, which can cause poor balance and uncoordinated movements

These secondary effects are most likely to occur when the stroke affects the dominant side.

When Your Non-Dominant Side Is Affected

If you have a parietal lobe stroke on the non-dominant side of your brain, you may experience different symptoms, such as:

  • Hemineglect: when a patient has trouble noticing things on the affected side of the environment. Because the right hemisphere is usually the non-dominant side, hemineglect most commonly occurs as left neglect where stroke patients do not notice the left side of their body or environment.
  • Poor spatial awareness: inability to understand where your body is in relation to other objects, which can cause difficulty navigating the world around you.
  • Impaired sense of direction and visual memory: this can also cause difficulty navigating the world around you
  • Anosognosia: inability to perceive the effects of a stroke. This can be problematic because the individual denies his/her sensory deficits and is less likely to participate in rehabilitation.

Now that you understand the secondary effects that may occur, let’s talk about the road to recovery.

Rehabilitation from Parietal Lobe Stroke

how to recover from parietal lobe stroke

Many effects of parietal lobe stroke can be managed through effective rehabilitation interventions. Parietal lobe stroke doesn’t necessarily alter the function of your senses, but rather the way they are processed by the brain.

By promoting neuroplasticity, the brain can be trained to rewire itself and relearn how to process and understand sensory information.

Occupational Therapy

A lack of spatial awareness can make it difficult for stroke survivors to interact with their environment. For example, when someone reaches for a shirt and their aim is entirely off, it will make it difficult to get dressed.

At occupational therapy, stroke survivors practice engaging their senses to carry out activities of daily living. You have to train your brain to recalibrate coordination between your vision and touch with lots of repetition.

Speech Therapy

Stroke survivors that are experiencing difficulties with writing, reading, speaking, comprehension, visual processing, or memory can benefit from speech therapy.

A speech-language pathologist is trained to help people recover their communication skills. The more you work with a speech therapist, the better you will get at articulating your thoughts and expressing them.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy exercises will help develop a sense of body awareness and balance. This will help stroke survivors that have impaired proprioception.

Our bodies respond to demand. The more you practice moving, the more your brain will adjust.

Visual Scanning Exercises

Visual scanning exercises (like word searches) encourage stroke survivors to make a conscious effort to focus on stimuli on the affected side.

The more you practice engaging your neglected side, the better your brain will get at noticing stimuli. With enough repetition, the brain can rewire itself to acknowledge your neglected side. Both occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists may use this type of exercise in their treatments to help improve your vision and/or attention after stroke.

Understanding Parietal Lobe Stroke

Parietal lobe stroke affects your ability to process sensory information and understand spatial awareness. Luckily, there is hope for recovery. Through repetitive practice, neuroplasticity is promoted, and parietal lobe functions can be reassigned to undamaged areas of the brain.

Hopefully, this article helped you better understand parietal lobe stroke and what you can do to recover from it.

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