Pharmacological Therapies to Enhance Motor Recovery and Walking After Stroke

Emerging Strategies

Wieslaw Oczkowski


Expert Rev Neurother. 2013;13(8):903-909. 

In This Article

How Does a Stroke Affect a Person?

To understand how to enhance recovery after a stroke requires the understanding of how a stroke affects the brain and the person and the complex process of recovery, including rehabilitation.

The brain is a highly organized organ with specific functions located in specific areas; for example, perception of vision is located in the occipital lobes and the control of eye movements is located in the brainstem. However, the brain also functions as a unified 'machine' as is obvious for such functions as memory, attention and general thinking. Loss of motor function, or weakness, is the most common and obvious abnormality as a result of stroke and affects about 80% of people.[6] This loss of motor function usually involves one side of the body, including face, arm and leg, in varying degrees and severity.

The World Health Organization of function, disability and health is a framework for measuring health and disability in an individual.[7] A loss of 'function' such as weakness of a leg may lead to loss of 'activity' such as the ability to walk and may lead to loss of 'participation' such as the ability to work. In general loss of 'function' after stroke refers to such abnormalities as loss of motor control, loss of sensation, loss of vision, loss of coordination and loss of other functions. Limitations in 'activity' after stroke refers to loss of the ability to take care of oneself and perform such tasks as getting dressed, eating, going to the bathroom and walking. Limitations in 'participation' after stroke refers to the loss of the ability to engage with the larger community and to participate in such activities as managing finances, driving and working. Many individuals who have suffered a stroke are left with residual losses in a function, and activity, and some aspect of participation (Table 1).