Life after a stroke: Challenges patients may face

The third-leading cause of death in Canada is due to stroke. It is also a major cause of disability.

A stroke is a condition that occurs when there is a disruption of blood flow to the brain. This disruption can cause severe damage to brain tissue, which could potentially result in damage to the part of the brain that controls certain muscles in the body. This can cause muscles to become tight or stiff, which is known as post-stroke spasticity.

Research shows that 30 per cent of all stroke survivors will develop spasticity.

Spasticity can range in severity, and depending on which muscles have been affected, it can manifest in ways that make it difficult to do even the easiest of everyday tasks, like brushing your teeth, walking or just trying to stand up.

Often, survivors will experience at least one of the following symptoms:
• Inability to straighten limbs (arms, hands, feet, etc.)
• Muscle stiffness
• Abnormal postures
• Uncontrollable spasms and muscle reflexes

When it comes to strokes, time is truly of the essence. The quicker patients can receive the critical care they need, the greater likelihood of survival and a positive recovery.

If you’re experiencing spasticity symptoms after a stroke, it’s important to talk to your doctor. Reports show that symptoms of spasticity can worsen over time, as studies show that more than 25 per cent of stroke survivors develop spasticity symptoms six weeks after having had a stroke.

Learn more about spasticity and resources available to those living with the condition at