NRS 410 Discuss characteristic findings for a stroke and how it affects the lives of patients and their families

NRS 410 Discuss characteristic findings for a stroke and how it affects the lives of patients and their families

NRS 410 Discuss characteristic findings for a stroke and how it affects the lives of patients and their families

Swearing and cursing after having a stroke is not uncommon and can be difficult for families to deal with especially if this is something the patient has not done before. “Swearing is one activity that engages both sides of your brain, the language center in the left brain and the emotional center in your right brain” (Wood, 2019). Oftentimes “patients who’ve lost the ability of normal speech feel compelled to curse” (Wood, 2019). This loss of speech is called aphasia. To provide support to the family, education can be provided on aphasia, listen to the family concerns, and validate their feelings. You can also reassure them that it takes time for the brain to heal and that “the first three months after a stroke are the most important for recovery and when patients will see the most improvement” (Pruski, 2022). Encourage the family to stay positive and support the patient since they may be frustrated during their road to rehabilitation.



Pruski, A. (2022). Stroke Recovery Timeline. Retrieved from

Wood, C. (2019). Your cursing cortex. Retrieved from

Stroke affects the lives of patients in negative ways. The issues are associated with depression, cognitive impairment, and personality concerns. To help families in these devastating situations, nurses are expected to ensure that they listen to them, show encouragement, and observe their patients identify additional signs and symptoms (Lehto et al., 2019). The nurse can also make referrals or use resources within the organization or community to assist the patient and family. For example, referring a stroke patient for psychological counselling will help in addressing the psychosocial characteristics of the patient’s health.


Lehto, B., Kylmä, J., & Åstedt‐Kurki, P. (2019). Caring Interaction with stroke survivors’ family members—Family members’ and nurses’ perspectives. Journal of Clinical Nursing28(1-2), 300-309.

Behavior changes can happen after a stroke, sometimes a normal part of the recovery process, but can also indicate other medical complications requiring treatment (Flint Rehab, 2021). Patients can have sudden and completely new personality traits and behaviors that shock their family and friends. A stroke causes damage to a patient’s brain; for example, damage to the frontal lobe can lead to impulsiveness and lack of self-control (Flint Rehab, 2021). They may have aphasia, and difficulty communicating, which in addition to the loss of their independence, can cause anger and frustration leading to cussing or outbursts. If they seem drastically different in demeanor and speech, it can be concerning for the family and difficult for them to understand, and they will require education and support too. Provide the family with education on how brain damage can contribute to the patient’s changes. Encourage the family to be patient and listen, but set limits by discussing their behavior and what is appropriate or not. They should get help from others, not try to do everything themselves, and not put themselves in danger. They should discuss behavior changes with the provider as they may have medical treatment or additional therapy that can help. The family can also join support groups or counseling for support. If the patient is verbally or physically aggressive, we must educate the family that it is ok to walk away, try not to raise their voice, and, if necessary, call 911.


Flint Rehab. (2021). Behavior changes after stroke: Causes & treatment

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I know from both professional and personal experience, that caring for stroke patients is emotionally taxing. I’ve seen otherwise docile, mild-mannered patients become aggressive, use foul language, and essentially transform into another person altogether.

What makes this phenomenon even more strange is the fact that many of these patients have a limited verbal

NRS 410 Discuss characteristic findings for a stroke and how it affects the lives of patients and their families
NRS 410 Discuss characteristic findings for a stroke and how it affects the lives of patients and their families

vocabulary after suffering a stroke, but they swear and use profanity to no end! When a stroke has affected the area of the brain that controls speech, it may result in the use of profanity by a patient that has never spoken that way before. We can support the family by teaching them that it is not uncommon for this to happen in people post-stroke. While that may not necessarily quell their worry, fear, or embarrassment, helping them understand may help them to deal with the situation a little better. Kim (2016) suggests that encouraging family members to provide emotional support to the stroke patient also helps them [the family members]. Caregiver support groups can be a good outlet; not only can they find helpful advice on caring for stroke victims, but they can also meet like-minded peers who may offer them guidance and emotional support for what they’re dealing with. Sometimes just knowing that they’re not alone in a situation helps more than you know.




Kim, J.S. (2016). Post-stroke mood and emotional disturbances: Pharmacological therapy based on mechanisms. Journal of Stroke18(3), 244–255.

Stroke can have all sorts of different effects. Many are physical, that we can see and recognize but there can also be hidden effects, like emotional changes. Changing of emotions often lead to a change in behavior. If a patient’s emotions or behavior have changed since their stroke, this may be caused by physical damage to the brain. Different parts of the brain control different functions within the body, including how we feel. If the part of the brain that normally controls our emotions becomes damaged by a stroke, the result can be a change in how one can think, feel or behave (SA, 2012).


I work on a med surge floor and work with mainly the elderly population. I have had many situations where patients who come in altered or with dementia and start cussing. Because of this I feel I have the ability to remain calm in these situations. When a patient is a stroke survivor, I tend to see it a little differently. If a patient starts cussing who never did before the stroke occurred, they may feel angry and trapped inside because of what has happened. When this happens, I let them know that I am there for them. If the cussing is due to a cognitive component a patient may not be able to control their emotions or speech. I sometimes you just need to reinforce good language or possibly ignore the comments. Stroke victim patients would also benefit from things like speech therapy and cognitive/behavioral therapy. Family members of stroke victims should be involved in the treatment plan, it may get them to feel more at ease about the situation. Sometimes just holding a family members hand, letting them be comforted in your presence and openness to answer any questions that they may have, can be of big importance. The nurse should also get social work involved to come up with any available resources for the family, such as counseling, financing, and placement options if needed.


Stroke Association. (2012, April). A complete guide to emotional changes after stroke. Emotional changes after stroke. Retrieved July 29, 2022, from 

When a stroke affects the emotion center of the brain, it can cause a condition called pseudobulbar affect. This involves involuntary, inappropriate, and uncontrollable outbursts of emotion such as laughter, crying, or anger, particularly when a situation does not call for such emotion. When anger after stroke becomes extreme, it can result in aggressive behavior after stroke which should be taken seriously. Being a caregiver for a survivor can be difficult, and angry outbursts add more stress to the situation. Take care of yourself by practicing self-care routines like attending support groups, seeing a therapist, and maintaining healthy boundaries. You can help ease their upset by reducing triggers that are in your control, such as avoiding crowded areas, encouraging naps to reduce fatigue, and cheerleading their recovery. Remind your loved one of how far they have come and that there is always hope for recovery.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2018). Stroke signs and symptoms. Retrieved from