A stroke (also known as cerebrovascular disease) is a sudden loss of brain function that results when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly disrupted. Blood is carried to the brain by blood vessels called arteries, which when blocked by plaque, a clot, or they burst altogether, blood may no longer be able to move through it. Brain damage or even death may then occur as the brain cannot survive without a continuous flow of nutrient-rich blood.
Long term effects of stroke can greatly vary depending on the level of brain damage that has been incurred. Some of these effects include:
Side effects of damage to the left hemisphere of the brain may include:
Side effects of damage to the right hemisphere of the brain may include:
Recent scientific studies have shown that when massaged, stroke patients experienced increased mobility, decreased pain, decreased depression and as a result used less medication. Please read on for more ways in which massage can help patients manage the long term side effects of a stroke.
Stroke victims with mobility issues may benefit greatly from massage. Using various techniques, massage of the muscles can stimulate blood flow and consequently improved overall mobility. Specific nerve centres may be stimulated using acupressure in massage, or mobility may be increased using the long, heavy strokes of Swedish massage instead.
Fatigue is a common, long-term side effect of stroke. Symptoms associated with the fatigue include never feeling rested, excessive sleep, slower speech and movement, shortness of breath, lack of care and interest, a strong desire to be alone.
Massage can increase the levels of energy and assist the stroke victim in conserving it. It does so by releasing muscle tension and toxins in the muscles and reducing the stress hormone called cortisol.
Stroke victims may experience insomnia as it can be difficult to sleep with a dry mouth, shortness of breath, muscle discomfort, and muscle stiffness.
Massage can help improve Insomnia experienced in creating a more relaxed state for the person both physically and mentally. It also activates the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for allowing your body to relax. It is common for a person to even fall asleep in a massage!
Poor circulation is a common cause of stroke. It is important for stroke victims to address the issue in order to prevent another stroke from occurring.
Gentle massage can stimulate circulation and internal organs and create warmth. Extremities such as hands and feet may be swollen, achy or cold due to an accumulation of lactic acid in the muscles caused by decreased mobility in someone who has had a stroke.
The good circulation stimulated by massage delivers oxygen-rich blood to these damaged, tense muscles, which is exactly what they need to heal.
Pain may be experienced by stroke victims. This is generally a result of stiff joints, muscle tension and cramps.
Sore, stiff joints may be alleviated by gentle massage as muscles surrounding the soft tissues surrounding the joint receive better blood supply from an increase in blood circulation. Increased circulation from massage therapy can also help to alleviate cramps, as they are usually the result of the muscle not receiving adequate blood flow.
Emotional problems may develop alongside physical ones after a person has had a stroke. Previous day to day activities can no longer be carried out, and depression may occur.
Recent scientific research has shown massage to have a beneficial effect when carried out on those suffering from Depression. Here massage adds its therapeutic value in physically stimulating the nerve receptors of the nervous system, which in turn causes a release of the mood-lifting chemicals serotonin or dopamine into the body. Other internal chemicals associated with stress, such as adrenaline and cortisol, are also reduced with massage and counteract the depression.
The day to day quality of a stroke victim's life may be improved by massage. If you have had a stroke, please always speak to your doctor before undergoing massage or other similar therapies.