Effects of a Stroke

A mild stroke can cause little or no brain damage.  However, a major stroke can cause severe brain damage and even death.

A stroke can occur in different parts of the brain.  The effects of a stroke vary depending on where in the brain a stroke occurs.

Right Hemisphere:

A stroke occurring in the right half of the brain (the right hemisphere) can cause:

  • Problems judging distances
  • Impaired judgment and behavior
  • Short-term memory loss

Left Hemisphere:

A stroke occurring in the left half of the brain (the left hemisphere) can cause:

  • Speech and language problems
  • Slow and cautious behavior
  • Memory challenges


A stroke in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination, can cause:

  • Abnormal reflexes of the head and upper body
  • Balance challenges
  • Dizziness, nausea, vomiting

Brain Stem:

A stroke in the brain stem can affect:

  • Eye movements
  • Breathing
  • Hearing
  • Speech
  • Swallowing

Strokes in the brain stem are critical because the brain stem controls all body functions.  Patients with a brain stem stroke may also develop paralysis, or not be able to move or feel on one or both sides of the body.

In many cases, a stroke can weaken the muscles, making it challenging to walk, eat or dress without the aid of someone else.  However, some symptoms may improve with time and rehabilitation or therapy.