Movement and Motor Function After Stroke

Depending on the location in the brain, a stroke can cause paralysis in certain parts of the body. You may experience gait imbalance, problems controlling movement, pain or numbness.

Paralysis or Problems Controlling Movement

Paralysis is one of the most common disabilities resulting from stroke. It usually affects one side of the body, opposite the side of the brain damaged by stroke. It may affect the face, arm, leg or the entire side of the body.

Some patients have problems with swallowing, known as dysphagia, due to damage to the part of the brain that controls the muscles for swallowing. Damage to the lower part of the brain, called the cerebellum, can affect your body’s coordination and movement, leading to problems with body posture, walking and balance.

Pain and Numbness

Some patients who have had a stroke experience pain, numbness or odd sensations of tingling or prickling in affected parts of the body.

Some stroke survivors may experience chronic pain syndromes resulting from stroke-induced damage to the nervous system. This is called neuropathic pain. Patients who have a seriously weakened or paralyzed arm may experience moderate to severe pain that radiates outward from the shoulder. This type of pain results from a joint becoming immobilized due to lack of movement because the tendons and ligaments around the joint may become fixed in one position.

In some patients, pathways for sensation in the brain are damaged. This can cause the transmission of false signals that result in the sensation of pain in a limb or side of the body. This can also affect the ability to sense the need to urinate or the ability to control muscles of the bladder, leading to incontinence.

Your care team will use a variety of medication and therapies to address these concerns. Stroke rehabilitation is also a critical part of regaining as much functional movement as possible.