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Information & Advice

...for Students

...for Staff

...on Assistive Technology

Stroke

What is a stroke?

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A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted.  There are two main causes of stroke – a thrombosis and a haemorrhage.

The brain guzzles large quantities of oxygen and nutrients which are supplied by the blood.  An intricate network of blood vessels sends blood to the various parts of the brain.   The brain is an extremely delicate organ and the lack of blood flow for just a few minutes can cause brain cells to die.  Haemorrhage and thrombosis can cause damage to various parts of the brain depending upon which blood vessel or vessels are damaged or blocked.  A stroke can therefore cause a wide range of impairments (depending upon which parts of the brain are damaged).

These impairments can include problems with:

The severity of impairments resulting from a stroke can also vary.  For example one person who has had a stroke may have a mild weakness in a specific limb, whilst another person may be totally paralysed in one side and unable to talk.  Some people who have had strokes make a full recovery, and others remain impaired. 

Stroke and Higher Education.

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Around 1000 people under 30 have a stroke each year in the UK, making them relatively rare. http://www.stroke.org.uk There are however some young students who have had strokes as well as mature students.  Difficulties faced by students with stroke damage vary enormously as stroke could potentially affect any part of brain function.  It must be noted that after effects of stroke can, and often do improve over time, and with practice.

The more common difficulties likely to be faced by students who have had strokes are, dysphasia, aquired dyslexia, memory problems, mobility problems and depression.

Acquired dysphasia is a more common after effect of stroke and usually results from damage to the left hand side of the brain, which is largely responsible for language and communication.  

Dysphasia is an impairment of speech and comprehension of speech, which can manifest itself in several ways. 

Dysphasia can include problems with:

The strength of the indicators of dysphasia can vary.  Some people may only have mild communication problems such as inability to read social signals or an occasional difficulty in finding the right word, whilst others my have more severe impairments such as inability to form meaningful sentences.   

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Students with Dysphasia may benefit from:

Stroke can also leave people with less obvious communication problems such as an inability to read social signals, a difficulty in finding the right word , a tendency to tire mentally and perhaps then appear confused or a difficulty with instantaneous decisions.

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Acquired dyslexia is another common after effect of stroke.  It is usually caused by damage to the left hemisphere of the brain. Singleton (1999) defines acquired dyslexia as a significant loss of literacy skills as a result of some neurological trauma such as a stroke or head injury, illness or brain disease.   People with acquired dyslexia may have similar problems to students with developmental dyslexia such as problems with:

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Students with acquired dyslexia may benefit from:

Memory Loss

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Memory is often divided into 2 distinct types, based upon duration.  These are:

Stroke can cause problems with LTM and STM which often improve over time.

Students with memory difficulties may benefit from:

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Mobility Problems

Motor impairments and problems with mobility often result from stroke.  Usually these problems are confined to the side of the body opposite the side of the brain which has been damaged by the stroke.  Occasionally stroke damage is widely spread across the brain and both sides can be affected.  The severity of motor impairments can vary from a one sided weakness in a single limb (hemiplegia), to a full left or right side paralysis.  

Motor problems may cause the person difficulty with everyday activities such as walking or grasping objects.   Fortunately there are many assistive products available to people with mobility problems ranging from wheel chairs to voice recognition software.

Students with mobility problems may benefit from:

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Depression

Depression is a very common after-effect of stroke.  There are two main reasons for this:

Depression is often categorised as the experience of low mood which continues for more than two weeks.  Depression can have detrimental effects on living.  It can cause:

Depression is rarely permanent, although relapse is quite common.  The effects of depression can often be improved by anti-depressant medications, regular exercise and psychological therapies.  

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Students with depression may benefit from:

Bibliography

Bergquist, W.H., McLean, R., Kobylinski, B. A. (1994) Stroke Survivors. San Francisco, California: Jossey-Bass Inc. Publishers.

Burkman, K. (1998)Stroke Recovery Book: A Guide for Patients and Families. Addicus Books.

Davis, G.A. (1983) A Survey of Adult Aphasia. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Doyle, J. (1996) Dyslexia: An Introductory Guide. London: Whurr.

Hales, G. (1994) Dyslexia Matters. London: Whurr.

Josephs, Arthur. (1992) The Invaluable Guide to Life after Stroke: An Owner's Manual. Long Beach, California: Amadeus Press.

Hinds, D.M. (2000) After Stroke. Harper Collins.

Parkin, A.J. (1996) Explorations in cognitive neuropsychology. Blackwell.

Pinel, J.P.J. (2005) Biopsychology (6th Edition) Pearson Higher Education.

Websites and Pages

American Stroke Association - www.strokeassociation.org

BBC - www.bbc.co.uk/health/conditions/stroke/

NHS Direct Online Health Encyclopaedia - www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/en.asp?TopicID=433&AreaID=3633&LinkID=2708

The Stroke Association - www.stroke.org.uk

Wikipedia - www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stroke

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