post stroke, cognitive rehabilitation for stroke

What is It

A stroke, a cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when blood flow is disrupted to the brain. It may happen when one of the arteries providing blood flow to the brain is blocked or ruptured, causing a bleed. It may impact one or both sides of the brain, resulting in survivors experiencing different complications. 


Common complications resulting from a stroke include cognitive, psychological, and physical problems. Cognitively, stroke survivors often have processing speed, memory, language, attention, executive functioning, visual-spatial skill, and motor skill deficits.


A stroke survivor may have aphasia or language loss if it occurs on the left side of the brain. Survivors typically work with speech, occupational, and physical therapists to recover and rehabilitate from the damages incurred. 

The 3 Different Types of Strokes

Ischemic strokes occur when a clot occurs within the brain’s arteries or veins that causes blood flow to stop reaching the brain tissue. The clot can form when a blood vessel gets blocked, which then causes reduced blood flow, allowing for the build-up of fatty deposits. These fatty deposits form into blood clots which have the potential to drift into one’s brain. If that occurs, blood, oxygen, and nutrients are denied from reaching the brain tissue, causing the tissue to be damaged or die. Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke, with around 87% of all strokes being one.  Recently studies have found that there might be a link between being infected with COVID-19 and ischemic strokes.


In a similar way to ischemic strokes, a hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel from the brain ruptures or begins to leak. Many factors cause a hemorrhagic, such as uncontrolled high blood pressure, aneurysms, trauma, protein deports, and even ischemic. The rupture of an abnormal tangle of the arteriovenous malformation, a thin blood vessel, is another less common way to cause a brain bleed. Over 750,000 people experience a hemorrhagic stroke each year.

A TIA, also known as a ministroke, is when one faces symptoms similar to a stroke in a temporary period of time. These ministrokes do not cause permanent damage but leave victims facing symptoms for around five minutes. It is related to an ischemic stroke because a TIA occurred when one experiences reduced blood flow to part of the nervous system caused by a clot of debris. It is important to note that you need to seek emergency care even when your TIA symptoms worsen. It is impossible to self-diagnose the difference between a TIA and a stroke, which is why it is crucial to call your doctor or emergency care provider. When a TIA goes untreated, it often can increase the risk of having a full stroke in the future.

What are the symptoms?

How can one determine the signs of a stroke? Just remember the word FAST. 


F: Facial Weakness – Ask the person to smile, see one side of their face droops.


A: Arm Weakness – Ask the person to raise both arms. Check if one arm is unable to rise or one arm drifts downwards.


S: Speech Problems – Ask the person to repeat something simple like, “The sky is blue.” Check if their speech is slurred or abnormal.


T: Time to call 9-1-1 – If you have observed any of these signs, it is time to call 9-1-1. Remember that call could save a life.

 There are more identifying symptoms to help recognize when one is going through a stroke. Some of the other symptoms to look out for include:


  • Sudden weakness on one side of the body.
  • Difficulty finding words or slurred speech. 
  • Sudden blurred vision or loss of sight in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion.
  • Sudden dizziness or a sudden fall.
  • A sudden, severe headache 


person smoking a cigarette is at risk of having a stroke

What can cause someone to have a stroke?

There are many causes, some factors are preventable, while others may not be. Preventable risk factors include:

  • Gaining weight, becoming overweight or obese
  • Inability to complete physical activity
  • Heavy drinking
  • Use of illegal drugs
    • Commonly cocaine and methamphetamine

Can you prevent a stroke?

You can not 100% prevent one from occurring, but implementing the following items may decrease your risk of having one: Quit smoking (if currently smoking), avoid the use of drugs, moderate alcohol consumption, and make healthy food choices. Additionally, you can maintain a healthy weight for your age, sex, and height, drink enough water throughout the day, and incorporate physical activity into your daily routine.

What are the potential long-term symptoms?

People who have had a stroke may experience personality changes, depression, anxiety, and added stress. Having a stroke can be a very traumatic experience, as it can be strongly debilitating or fatal. People may also experience pain in a specific area of their body, such as an arm or a leg, as neural connections between the brain and muscles can be damaged. Lastly, certain senses may be compromised, such as taste or vision, depending on where the lesion is located in the brain.

What Can Be Done for Stroke Patients?

Because stroke survivors have complex needs, their cognitive and physical rehabilitation therapy must be adaptable and individualized. With HappyNeuron Pro, clinical providers can provide targeted and customized cognitive rehabilitation therapy. From targeting communication complications to remembering where they were going in a store, HappyNeuron Pro may help with the rehabilitation of individuals.

Treatment options

Cognitive Rehabilitation

After a stroke, people may engage in a variety of therapies. If someone has aphasia, or trouble producing and understanding language, they may work with a speech-language pathologist. If someone is looking to get back to work or school and advocate for accommodations, they will work with an occupational therapist. Occupational therapists may also provide cognitive rehabilitation activities for their clients with stroke to help them learn the foundations of cognitive skills needed for everyday life. Psychologists may also do this but typically work with patients on coping strategies to help them adjust to life after and help them tackle post-stroke depression.

Physical Rehabilitation

Often, people who have had a stroke also have physical difficulties. Patients with stroke may work with a physical therapist to build strength, endurance, and balance. Many people who have had a stroke have difficulty using both arms and both legs in everyday life. By working with physical therapists, patients with stroke may be able to learn ways to move more efficiently without expending as much energy. Someone with a stroke may also choose to work with a personal trainer who specializes in working with neurological populations.
stroke resources, cognitive therapy for post stroke, stroke exercises, free resources for stroke patients

Recommended exercises

Each stroke patient’s needs will vary based on the effects each individual has experienced from a stroke. We recommend getting familiar with all of our exercises. You can learn more about each exercise on our site, including our memory, language, executive functioning, and visual-spatial exercises, and discern which exercises best fit your patient’s needs. 

(With a free trial, you can play and even try all our exercises with your patients!)

Here are a few HappyNeuron Pro exercises most commonly used with post-stroke rehabilitation.

Memory Exercises

I Remember You!

Visual and verbal working memory 


Attention, visual working memory

An American In Paris

Verbal and visual working memory

Language Exercises



Secret Files

Working memory, reasoning 

Root it Out

Lexical Spelling 

Attention Exercises

Find Your Way! 


Private Eye

Visual Attention 

Ancient Writing

Pattern Recognition  

Interested in trying our digital tools?

Pulling from our decades of experience in Cognitive Therapeutics, we aim to help you enrich your practice through the use of digital and paper tools.