Cognitive problems

It is thought that some cognitive loss probably happens in most stroke survivors.

Some of the most common areas of cognition that can be affected by stroke are:

  • memory
  • attention
  • perception
  • communication.

Memory

Memory is your ability to take in, store and retrieve information.

After a stroke it is perhaps most common for short term memory problems to arise. Remembering new information can also be very difficult for many people, and the speed at which people use their memory may appear slower than usual.

Attention

Our 'attention' is our ability to select and focus on one piece of information.

After a stroke, you may have difficulty in selecting what requires attention and what does not, and you could become easily distracted. You might  find it hard to focus on the task at hand or to filter out distracting information, like background noise. Your ability to multi-task could be affected too.

Perception

Perception is the way your understand or 'perceive' the world around you. For this to happen, your brain receives information from your senses, then organises it in a way that you can understand.

After a stroke, problems can arise at different stages of perception - from picking up information in the first place through to interpreting that information or accessing memory about it.
Some cognitive problems resolve themselves in time. However, other problems may be more persistent, recovering a little but not fully.

Finding practical ways of coping is important. An occupational therapist (OT) can help you.

Talking to people about how you feel may help with unpleasant emotions brought about by cognitive diffculties. These might be friends or family, or even a qualified counsellor with specialist knowledge.
It is normal to feel anxious, upset and even angry after a stroke.

Meeting new people in a similar situation can also be agreat way to gain support and increase your confidence. Support groups such as stroke clubs are an excellent place to start.

Read our publications
Cognitive problems after stroke
The Road to Recovery
The Road to Recovery - Welsh

Useful organisations
Age UK
Age Scotland
Brain & Spine Helpline
Headway - the brain injury association