Stroke is the fourth single leading cause of death and the leading cause of severe disability in the UK. A stroke can affect anyone of any age from any background and rehabilitation can be a long and difficult process.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is stopped; without oxygen and a blood supply brain cells can be damaged or die.
Depending on where the stroke occurs in the brain, the damage incurred can have different effects. A stroke can affect the way the body works as well as how one thinks, feels and communicates.
Research in the late 20th century has shown that many aspects of the brain can be altered throughout adulthood, which is known as ‘neuroplasticity’. This contradicts the previous consensus that the brain develops during a critical period in early childhood and then remains relatively unchanged. This is a vital development in understanding what can be possible for post-stroke recovery.
Following a stroke, stimulation through reading and conversational interaction encourages the brain to alter, adapt and find new neural pathways in order to process and understand language and communication. This is known as "adaptive rewiring".