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Effects of a Stroke on the Brain and Body

When blood supply is cut off from the brain, cells begin to die from lack of oxygen. Within minutes, skills such as reasoning, speech, and arm or leg movement may be lost. The type of skills and the amount of loss depend on 2 things: which part of the brain was affected, and how much tissue was damaged.

image of brain showing cerebellum, brain stem, and spinal cord

  1. The brain is the body’s control center.

  2. The cerebellum controls the body’s coordination and balance.

  3. The brain stem links the brain and the spinal cord. It also handles basic body functions.

  4. The spinal cord carries messages between the brain and the body.

A Stroke Causes Lost Skills

Each part of the brain has a role related to a function in the body. Damage to any part of the brain limits its ability to carry out its role. This results in lost skills or changes in function, and even in personality. Some parts of the brain that may be affected by stroke are as follows:

  • The front of the brain houses reasoning and the ability to control emotions. Personality resides here.

  • The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body. It also handles speech, language, reading, and writing.

  • The right side of the brain controls use and awareness of the left side of the body.

  • The back of the brain controls vision.

  • The brain stem handles breathing and swallowing.

Online Medical Reviewer: Louise Akin, RN, BSN
Online Medical Reviewer: Daphne Pierce-Smith, RN, MSN, FNP, CCRC
Last Review Date: 1/27/2011
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