UK researchers examine personality and social behavior changes in patients following stroke

July 26, 1999

LEXINGTON, KY - University of Kentucky researchers have found that depending on which side of the brain sustains damage during a stroke, affects the patient's personality and social competency and may influence others' impressions of them.

Studies conducted by University of Kentucky College of Medicine researchers Shelby Langer, Ph.D., L. Creed Pettigrew, M.D., M.P.H., John Wilson, Ph.D., and Lee X. Blonder, Ph.D., examined others' initial impressions of stroke patients - as a function of brain damage location.

When individuals sustain damage to the left cerebral hemisphere, they typically develop aphasia - the loss or impairment of language. When they suffer damage to the right cerebral hemisphere, they typically exhibit nonverbal communicative deficits often characterized as a "flattened affect" or a lack of facial expressions and a monotone voice.

In the study, stroke patients with left hemisphere damage, stroke patients with right hemisphere damage and control patients suffering from orthopedic disease participated in a semi-structured interview in their home. Each patient's spouse also participated in the discussion. All interactions were videotaped.

Two graduate student observers watched portions of the videotapes and made judgments about the personality and social competency of the patients. Both sets of stroke patients were perceived more negatively -- less outgoing, less sociable and warm in personality -- as compared to the orthopedic patients.

In addition, researchers found that patients who suffered from left hemisphere damage and had more speech problems, were seen as less socially competent than either patients with right hemisphere damaged or the control group.

"While there are individual differences in communicative competence among all people, brain damage in general and in stroke patients, in particular, can cause changes in an individual's ability to send and receive verbal and nonverbal messages," Blonder said.

One implication of the findings pertains to the importance of verbal and nonverbal skills for appropriate and successful communication. Individuals with language problems were seen as lacking in social skills, thus putting them at a greater social risk.

"Unfortunately, others may make erroneous assumptions about patients with impaired verbal or nonverbal behaviors such as attributing a lack of facial expression to negative personality traits, when in fact it is simply a result of the stroke," Blonder said.

Researchers suggest that spouses or significant others be made aware of a patient's specific verbal or nonverbal deficits and consider the potential communication and social problems for both the patient and his or her caregiver.

"By educating others on these potential negative effects as a consequence of stroke, we can help ease communication problems between patients and those who interact with them," Langer said.
The research was supported by an NIH/NINDS First Award to Blonder and a National Institute of Mental Health Training Grant that funded Langer.

University of Kentucky Medical Center

Related Stroke Articles from Brightsurf:

Stroke alarm clock may streamline and accelerate time-sensitive acute stroke care
An interactive, digital alarm clock may speed emergency stroke care, starting at hospital arrival and through each step of the time-sensitive treatment process.

Stroke patients with COVID-19 have increased inflammation, stroke severity and death
Stroke patients who also have COVID-19 showed increased systemic inflammation, a more serious stroke severity and a much higher rate of death, compared to stroke patients who did not have COVID-19, according a retrospective, observational, cross-sectional study of 60 ischemic stroke patients admitted to UAB Hospital between late March and early May 2020.

'Time is vision' after a stroke
University of Rochester researchers studied stroke patients who experienced vision loss and found that the patients retained some visual abilities immediately after the stroke but these abilities diminished gradually and eventually disappeared permanently after approximately six months.

More stroke awareness, better eating habits may help reduce stroke risk for young adult African-Americans
Young African-Americans are experiencing higher rates of stroke because of health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity, yet their perception of their stroke risk is low.

How to help patients recover after a stroke
The existing approach to brain stimulation for rehabilitation after a stroke does not take into account the diversity of lesions and the individual characteristics of patients' brains.

Kids with headache after stroke might be at risk for another stroke
A new study has found a high incidence of headaches in pediatric stroke survivors and identified a possible association between post-stroke headache and stroke recurrence.

High stroke impact in low- and middle-income countries examined at 11th World Stroke Congress
Less wealthy countries struggle to meet greater need with far fewer resources.

Marijuana use might lead to higher risk of stroke, World Stroke Congress to be told
A five-year study of hospital statistics from the United States shows that the incidence of stroke has risen steadily among marijuana users even though the overall rate of stroke remained constant over the same period.

We need to talk about sexuality after stroke
Stroke survivors and their partners are not adequately supported to deal with changes to their relationships, self-identity, gender roles and intimacy following stroke, according to new research from the University of Sydney.

Standardized stroke protocol can ensure ELVO stroke patients are treated within 60 minutes
A new study shows that developing a standardized stroke protocol of having neurointerventional teams meet suspected emergent large vessel occlusion (ELVO) stroke patients upon their arrival at the hospital achieves a median door-to-recanalization time of less than 60 minutes.

Read More: Stroke News and Stroke Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to