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A stroke can be stressful enough - add all the new terminology to that experience and it can get quite tiring! Find some terms and resources below to help you along your recovery journey!


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice that originated thousands of years ago. It is based on the premise that a blockage or disturbance in the flow of the body's life energy, or “qi,” can cause health issues. Acupuncturists insert hair-thin needles to specific acupuncture points throughout the body to restore the flow of qi, balance the body’s energy, stimulate healing, and promote relaxation. According to TCM theory, there are over 1000 acupuncture points on the body, each lying on an invisible energy channel, or “meridian.” Each meridian is associated with a different organ system. (Source) 

Read: The Miracles of TCM here.


The area of the body damaged by the stroke. Survivors tend to use the terms, “good side,” or “bad side” for the area impacted by the stroke. The correct term is “affected” side.  

Act of 1990

The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. § 12101) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination based on disability. It affords similar protections against discrimination to Americans with disabilities as the Civil Rights Act of 1964,[1] which made discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, and other characteristics illegal. In addition, unlike the Civil Rights Act, the ADA also requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees with disabilities, and imposes accessibility requirements on public accommodations.

Read more about the ADA here.


Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write. Aphasia is always due to injury to the brain-most commonly from a stroke, particularly in older individuals. But brain injuries resulting in aphasia may also arise from head trauma, from brain tumors, or from infections. 

Read more on Aphasia here.

Basal Ganglia

The brain contains both a left and a right basal ganglia.  The basal ganglia are a group of structures located dee within the brain, primarily involved in motor control and coordination.  They are symmetrically arranged on both sides of the brain.


Further, side effects differ, depending on the side of the brain affected by the stroke. A basal ganglia stroke occurring on the left side of the brain, it may result in right-sided weakness or paralysis (hemiparesis/hemiplegia). Additionally, speech and language difficulties, such as aphasia, may be more common when the left basal ganglia is affected.


Conversely, if the stroke affects the right side of the brain, it may cause left-sided weakness or paralysis or weakness. Other possible symptoms are: neglect or unawareness of the left side of the body and difficulties with visual and spatial perception.


Of course, all strokes are different, as are all survivors.


This term, used here, doesn’t refer to alcohol-related blackouts. It refers to quick, short losses of consciousness when I was experiencing neurological problems many years ago. These problems were resolved by Dr. Trevor Berry, the only neurologist, including Mayo, who knew what it was, what was causing it and how to repair it.

Click here to read about State of the Art Brain Healing


Most neuro therapy clinics offer their patients the opportunity to engage in a week-long set of therapy sessions, some of which offer a 1-3 ratio of therapist to patient. From approximately 9am until 2pm, you work hand-in-hand with an occupational and physical therapist to improve your current recovery issues. Sometimes you bring your lunch and at other times, lunch is provided. There is no cost to you, as the clinic bills your insurance company!

Click here to view me at NAU for their stroke survivor Bootcamp!


Botulinum toxin, often shortened to Botox, is a neurotoxic protein produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum and related species. It prevents the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from axon endings at the neuromuscular junction, thus causing flaccid paralysis. The toxin causes the disease botulism. (Wikipedia)

In other words, botox loosens the tightness caused by spasticity, thus allowing for muscle flaccidity and pain relief caused by spasticity and contractures.

Click here to read more on Botox.

Chiropractic Neurologist

Chiropractic Neurologists have advanced and extensive training in the field of Neurology. They are board certified through the ACNB (American Chiropractic Neurology Board) and are required to complete an additional 300+ hours of study and pass a vigorous 4-day exam to attain certification. They are trained in cutting-edge neuroscience, neurological pathways, and the most effective neurological therapies as science defines them. A Chiropractic Neurologist looks at the patient in a different light. It’s not just about pain and your spine. It’s about how your entire system works together to create the most optimal function for you day after day.

Check out a couple articles from my doctor here: Part 1 | Part 2.


Contractures are a condition of shortening and hardening of muscles, tendons, or other tissue, often leading to deformity and rigidity of joints. Contractures are extremely painful, so please do your best to move those limbs ASAP!

Core Stroke Pain

Core stroke pain, also known as central post-stroke pain (CPSP) or central pain syndrome, is a form of chronic pain that can occur after a stroke. It is characterized by persistent, often intense pain on one side of the body, affecting areas such as the face, torso, and/or limbs.

Read more on Core Stroke Pain here.

Denial of Deficit

Simply, it means denial that you have a deficit. Resistance to one’s reality. Not accepting one’s current condition. An example would be if you’d had a neurological event and a month after this event, you decided to get in your car and drive it, because you’re “fine!” Another example would be refusing to attend therapy sessions, because “you’re fine, ” or “the therapy is juvenile, useless, or too simple to do any good!” This is a serious and common issue with stroke survivors, which needs to be monitored by one's caregiver and may require a consult with the survivor's neurologist.


The diaphragm is the primary muscle used in respiration, which is the process of breathing. This dome-shaped muscle is located just below the lungs and heart. It contracts continually as you breathe in and out. It also has some non-respiratory functions as well. The diaphragm increases abdominal pressure to help the body get rid of vomit, urine, and feces. It also places pressure on the esophagus to prevent acid reflux. When your diaphragm is affected due to a neurological event, it affects your voice quality as well (


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter. Many different kinds of animals and humans use it to transmit information. It is used when the brain sends signals to the muscles in the body to make them move. It can make a person “feel good.” Dopamine is an important chemical found in the brain.

Read more on Dopamine here.


The backward bending and contracting of your hand or foot. This is the extension of your foot at the ankle, and your hand at the wrist.


Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulty swallowing or paralysis of the throat muscles. This condition can make eating, drinking, taking medicine, and breathing difficult. Many stroke survivors experience dysphagia or trouble swallowing at some point after a stroke. Difficulty swallowing is most common immediately after a stroke, but usually declines over time.


Swelling. After a stroke, most survivors experience a degree of inflammation in the brain- analogous to swelling after an injury, such as the noticeably swollen lump after an injury to the arm or leg. In my case, my affected hand (left) was swollen for 4-6 weeks, causing severe pain and the inability to function in therapy. Painful hot and cold baths and an edema glove were prescribed for my hand until it finally subsided.

Foot Drop

A gait abnormality in which the dropping of the forefoot happens due to weakness, irritation or damage to the common fibular nerve including the sciatic nerve, or paralysis of the muscles in the anterior portion of the lower leg. It is usually a symptom of a greater problem, not a disease in itself. Foot drop is characterized by inability or impaired ability to raise the toes or raise the foot from the ankle (dorsiflexion). Foot drop may be temporary or permanent, depending on the extent of muscle weakness or paralysis and it can occur in one or both feet. In walking, the raised leg is slightly bent at the knee to prevent the foot from dragging along the ground. Foot drop, or drop-foot, can be caused by nerve damage alone or by muscle, stroke, or spinal cord trauma,, abnormal anatomy, toxins, or disease. This disorder causes loss of function of the motor and sensory neural pathways. In this case, foot drop could be the result of paralysis due to neurological dysfunction.


If you’re unfamiliar with the hamstring’s function, here you go!

Hip and knee movements in walking; 

Tilting your pelvis.

Bending your knee joint. 

Extending your hip joint. 

Rotating your hip joint.

Ischemic Stroke

Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks or narrows an artery leading to the brain. A blood clot often forms in arteries damaged by the buildup of plaques (atherosclerosis). It can occur in the carotid artery of the neck as well as other arteries. This is the most common type of stroke.

Laser Therapy

There are lasers and then there are lasers! Erchonia lasers are state-of-the-art recovery devices for survivors. My chiropractic neurologist, Dr. Trevor Berry this laser on my brain, combined with oxygen treatments to enhance the laser’s effectiveness, to reduce inflammation and provide healing for my stroke-damaged brain.

Lock Boxes

It's literally a life saver! A lock box is a rectangular plastic box that is affixed to your home, near the front door. It holds a spare key to the door, in case of an emergency. Local fire departments sell these to homeowners, install them, and have a key to open the box, if needed in an emergency.

Click here to read more about lock boxes.


Naturopathic doctors are educated and trained in accredited naturopathic medical colleges. They diagnose, prevent, and treat acute and chronic illness to restore and establish optimal health by supporting the person's inherent self-healing process. Rather than just suppressing symptoms, naturopathic doctors work to identify underlying causes of illness, and develop personalized treatment plans to address them.


A chemical substance that is released at the end of a nerve fiber by the arrival of a nerve impulse.


The word neuroplasticity is the combination of 2 words: neuron and plasticity. Neurons are the nerve cells in your brain; and plasticity means that you can mold or reorganize something. Therefore, neuroplasticity refers to the process of reorganizing the neurons in your brain. This mechanism is how your brain can heal itself after a stroke and recover from the damage. After a stroke, certain parts of the brain can become damaged depending on the type of stroke and where it occurred. The functions that were once stored in those parts of the brain become damaged, it can make movement difficult. That’s where neuroplasticity comes into play. Neuroplasticity allows your brain to rewire functions from damaged areas of the brain over to new, healthy parts of the brain. A different, healthy area of your brain is capable of picking up the slack. When mobility is affected, for example, new areas of the brain can learn to control the affected (impaired) side. For example, if the part of your brain responsible for motor control becomes damaged, it can make movement difficult. While neuroplasticity is the #1 fact every patient should know about, you also need to know how to activate it.

Click here to find a resource on neuroplasticity and stroke.





Occupational Therapist (OT)

Occupational therapy practitioners address the physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges brought on by a stroke, and they can help stroke survivors engage in the things they want and need to do, including routine household tasks.  An easy way to remember the difference between an OT and a PT is: an OT addresses issues in the upper body; and a PT addresses lower body issues.

Read: The Art of Hand Recovery, written by my OT here.

Panic Attack

A panic attack is the abrupt onset of intense fear or discomfort that reaches a peak within minutes and includes at least one of the four following symptoms: palpitations, pounding heart, accelerated heart rate, sweating, trembling and/or shaking.

Peroneal Nerve​

The common peroneal nerve, also known as the common fibular nerve, is a major nerve that innervates the lower extremity. It is one of the two major branches off the sciatic nerve. This nerve activates the ankle to lift the foot. If you have Foot Drop, you will need to order an assistive device to lift up your foot to ensure you don't trip and fall.  I use an electronic device (the Bioness L300Go) to activate this nerve to lift my foot and turn it outwards.

Plasminogen Activator (tPA)

Intravenous injection of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). This injection of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), also called alteplase, is considered the gold standard treatment for ischemic stroke.

In some instances, tPA can be given up to 4.5 hours after stroke symptoms begin.

Physical Therapist (PT)

Physical Therapy practitioners address the most basic tasks and movements first, such as safely moving from a bed to a chair while protecting your impaired arms from injury. They will gradually progress to exercises and tasks that improve balance, help you relearn basic coordination skills, and retrain your brain to perform functional tasks such as grasping objects and walking. As opposed to an OT, the PT addresses issues in the lower portion of the body.

Read: Common Challenges in Stroke Recovery, written by a PT here.


Wikipedia describes it as talk therapy, a way to help people with a broad variety of mental illnesses and emotional difficulties. Psychotherapy can help eliminate or control troubling symptoms so a person can function better and can increase well-being and healing. Problems helped by psychotherapy include difficulties in coping with daily life; the impact of trauma, medical illness or loss, like the death of a loved one; and specific mental disorders, like depression or anxiety. There are several different types of psychotherapy and some types may work better with certain problems or issues. Psychotherapy may be used in combination with medication or other therapies. For me, having a supportive, objective, well-trained inspiring professional continues to be essential to my recovery. I highly recommend it!

Recovery Device

This term can mean anything from an AFO (Assistive Foot Orthosis) to a Bioness L300Go to assist with maintaining foot and ankle control for walking to ensure foot drop doesn’t cause one to trip and fall. Additionally, a cane or walker can also be considered an assistive or recovery device.


As it pertains to the affected hand/arm, the term could mean anything from a simple neoprene hand orthotic to a Bioness H200. Basically, anything that assists a stroke survivor with recovering the use of the affected portions of the body could be called a recovery device. 

Check out list of Helpful Devices for stroke recovery here.


Serotonin is a hormone found in the human body that transmits signals between nerve cells and causes blood vessels to narrow.


According to the Britannica Online Encyclopedia, serotonin is also known as 5-hydroxytryptamine. It is most concentrated in the midbrain and hypothalamus areas of the brain, but it is also found in intestinal tissue, blood platelets and the mast cells of the immune system.

Read more on Serotonin here.


After a stroke, damage to the brain can block messages between muscles and the brain causing arm and leg muscles to cramp or spasm (spasticity), kind of like a bad charley horse. This will limit your coordination and muscle movement. This post-stroke condition makes daily activities such as bathing, eating and dressing more difficult.

Spasticity can cause long periods of strong contractions in major muscle groups, causing painful muscle spasms. These spasms can produce:

  • A tight fist

  • Bent elbow

  • Arm pressed against the chest

  • Stiff knee

  • Pointed foot


FYI, I’ve recently learned from the book, Stronger After Stroke by Peter G Levine,  that spasticity actually begins in the spinal column, not the brain.  The spine sends an alert to the brain, “this appendage has been damaged, so we need to protect it and keep it safe!”

Check out resources on Spasticity here.


A condition that occurs when a joint begins to dislocate. However, instead of the joint surfaces completely losing contact, a subluxation can be considered a "partial dislocation." A subluxation is often the result of a traumatic or acute injury.

Read more on Subluxation here.

Victim Syndrome

Victim mentality is an acquired personality trait in which a person tends to recognize themselves as a victim of the negative actions of others, and to behave as if this were the case in the face of contrary evidence of such circumstances. Victim mentality depends on clear thought processes and attribution. Why do people play the victim?  Individuals who habitually indulge in self-victimisation (also known as playing the victim) do so for various reasons: to control or influence other people's thoughts, feelings and actions; to justify their abuse of others; to seek attention; or, as a way of coping with situations.

Additional Helpful Resources

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