A stroke is a type of brain damage. When this damage occurs in areas that control functions such as memory, problem-solving, concentration, and communication, it can cause confusion.

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Confusion is a common side effect of a stroke. Many people who experience a stroke are confused in the weeks and months that follow. They might have difficulties with memory, following directions, staying focused, and more.

Some people make a rapid recovery and regain those skills within the first 3 months after their stroke. For other people, confusion after a stroke can last years.

It’s very common to experience confusion after a stroke. Strokes can affect memory and thinking ability. These effects can lead to confusion and difficulties in everyday life.

Often, the most severe confusion occurs in the days immediately following a stroke.

Many people experience rapid recovery in the first few days and weeks after their stroke. However, this isn’t always a full recovery. People who have had a stroke can still have some symptoms of confusion and might still need therapy and recovery time.

Strokes can affect people in different ways. Common symptoms include difficulties with:

  • concentration
  • making and keeping plans
  • problem-solving
  • multitasking
  • memory
  • following directions
  • noticing objects on one side of your body
  • recognizing things
  • recalling specific words or phrases
  • money, numbers, and time

When you have a stroke, the supply of nutrient-rich, oxygenated blood to your brain is blocked. This causes brain cells to die.

Brain cells can die in areas of your brain that are responsible for functions such as thinking, memory, concentration, communication, sense of direction, and problem-solving. This leads to confusion.

Treatment for confusion after a stroke will give you the tools you need to manage difficulties in daily life.

People are often able to improve quickly in the first 3 months. This is the time when blood supply can still potentially allow repair. You can make progress and improve after this time, but it will likely be at a slower pace.

An occupational therapist will be the primary healthcare professional who can treat confusion. This specialist can help you learn ways to manage your confusion and make your everyday life easier.

For example, you might set reminders, use labels, make notes for yourself, or develop routines that are easier to stick to.

In some cases, a clinical neuropsychologist might also be part of your treatment team. A neuropsychologist is a healthcare professional who specializes in how the brain and nervous system work. They can do an assessment that measures your thinking and attention skills and can help develop a treatment plan.

There’s no way to predict exactly how long confusion after a stroke will last.

Although most people experience the most severe symptoms in the first few weeks and the fastest recovery progress in the first 3 months, there’s no set timetable.

People can experience confusion years after a stroke, but they can also have progress and symptom improvement years after a stroke.

The exact risk factors for confusion after a stroke aren’t completely understood. However, researchers are studying a few links.

These risk factors haven’t been proven but have been associated with stroke after looking at data from multiple studies.

Possible risk factors for confusion after a stroke include:

The outlook for people who experience confusion after a stroke is highly individual. A person’s recovery depends on many factors, such as:

  • their age
  • the treatment they receive
  • their overall health
  • the severity of their stroke
  • the support they have

As a rule, the progress a person makes during the first few months after their stroke is a good benchmark for how much progress they will be able to make overall. However, keep in mind that some people are able to make significant improvements years after a stroke.

You can learn more about confusion after a stroke by reading these answers to some common questions.

Are there ways to help with confusion after a stroke at home?

There are a few steps you can take at home to help your brain. Staying active and busy is a great way to heal.

Getting exercise, doing hobbies you enjoy, talking with friends, spending time outdoors, and even learning something new are ways you can strengthen your brain.

How can I help I loved one who has confusion after a stroke?

If a loved one is experiencing confusion after a stroke, there are several ways you can support them.

It’s important to be patient when talking with your loved one. It can also help to break down activities and tasks into smaller steps so they are less overwhelming and easier to understand. It’s OK to pause and take breaks if your loved one seems frustrated, angry, or confused.

Where can I find support for confusion after a stroke?

There are many great organizations you can turn to for support after a stroke. You can check out:

  • The American Stroke Association: You can use their search feature to find a support group near you.
  • The Stroke Network: This online support group is always available when you need to talk with someone.
  • The American Stroke Foundation: Their Next Step Program is aimed at people who have experienced a stroke and who are ready to start their recovery journey.

Confusion after a stroke is a very common effect. Stroke causes brain damage that may occur in areas that control functions such as communication, memory, problem-solving, and concentration. This leads to confusion and difficulties in everyday life.

An occupational therapist can help develop a treatment plan that will give you the tools you need to manage these difficulties.

Often, people make the largest recovery gains during the first 3 months following a stroke. However, it’s possible to continue improving for years.