Benefits for Stroke Victims

By David Heard-Smith D.H.P.

Before we proceed I must make it perfectly clear to all that I am not a doctor of medicine. I am a hypnotherapist and it is in this sphere that my expertise lies. I have studied extensively, as a requirement to this area of work, the effects that a stroke has on different areas of the brain and the brains? innate ability to compensate to effect an extensive repair to the systems that become impaired by reorganization of the areas used to control various brain functions.
We are, most of us anyway, aware that we use only a very small percentage of our brain?s capacity and therefore there is a vast reservoir of spare capacity to which we can turn for replacement parts. This is where hypnotherapy can readily help, through direct access to the subconscious mind. It is the best method of providing much needed hope and motivation that I am aware of and enjoys the ability to exert considerable and powerful influence on a willing subject.
Simply and briefly I will lay out below, the functions of both sides of the brain and the systems that are controlled along with those systems that are most likely to be damaged as a result of a stroke to the left or right side of the brain.
The brain is divided into four primary parts: the right hemisphere (or half) controlling left side motor coordination, the left hemisphere controlling right side motor coordination, the cerebellum helping to provide smooth, coordinated body movement and the brain stem controlling breathing, heartbeat and articulate speech.
Keeping in mind that the Right side of the brain controls the Left side of the body and conversely the Left side of the brain controls the Right side of the body. The victim of a Right Brain Stroke may experience: – 1. Paralysis or weakness on the left side of the body. 2. Ignoring objects / people on the left side of the body (neglect). 3. Difficulty with feeling (sensation) on the left side of the body. 4. Problems with dressing or grooming. 5. Problems with concepts of time. 6. Decreased attention span. 7. Problems with memory. Should the victim experience Left Brain Stroke then the following functions could be affected: – 1. Problems with speech and language. 2. Paralysis or weakness on the right side of the body. 3. Problems with voluntary movements. 4. Difficulty with feeling on the right side of the body. 5. Being unable to see things on the right side of the body or seeing double.
It has been discovered by some very eminent people in the realms of stoke victim recovery who have bothered to endeavour to affect as good a quality of life, post stroke, as possible that the use of hypnotherapy is most efficacious in a large number of cases.
Firstly it is an ideal way to clear out all the repressed psychologically damaging emotional experiences that have certainly played a great part in causing the stroke in the first place. Secondly it provides a simple and effective way for the victim to learn to relax properly and effectively. Thirdly and most importantly it provides a direct path to the subconscious mind whereby the therapist can teach the victim how to use the power of their own mind to utilize the two available bridges between the hemispheres to divert the neural communication and employ an unused area of the brain to take over the functions that have been lost or damaged. These bridges are named as the Corpus Callosum and the Anterior Comissura but the most useful for our purposes is the former that forms a small roof above the Thalamus and joins the two hemispheres.
With reference to the work of Marlene E. Hunter, M.D. of Vancouver, Canada it is admitted that there is no research to validate that hypnosis can facilitate enhanced recovery of function but this is not at all surprising bearing in mind the Medical professions reluctance to consider the effectiveness of non medical practice There is, however, a great deal of anecdotal evidence from hypnotherapists and their stroke victim clients that a considerable improvement is attainable. It is accepted that the very worst that can happen is that a little time and money is wasted but this is not my experience. What the medical profession does acknowledge is that the brain will, with help from physiotherapy, speech therapy and other like therapies facilitate recovery of function by employing previously idle parts of the brain to take over the damaged part?s function. Hypnotherapy is able to accelerate this recovery with or without those therapies being used and bring about, what is probably most important, a feeling of hope and where this hope exists so the human psyche will cause it to happen.
The fact is that it is commonly said that the stroke victim has to relearn these lost abilities but this is not so. The fact that the person has suffered a stroke does not mean that they have forgotten how to walk, talk or feel but that they have to find another way to transmit their mental desire, to accomplish these things, to the relevant muscles etc. via a different path through the nervous system. This can also be employed to regain memory that is buried inside the damaged area and cannot readily be retrieved. When the wiring is connected in a different way to another part of the brain, hitherto unemployed, new capacity becomes available for use with the lost skills.
To put it simply, due to your left brain having suffered a stroke you are having difficulty with your words, the challenge is, teach your right brain to do what the left side used to do.
It has been shown conclusively with the use of MRI scans that as this process evolves the activity on the left side of the brain slows down and the activity on the right side increases considerably. After the sufferer practices more and more their newly learned right brain use so the activity on that side reduces to show that the new part of the brain has genuinely got the hang of it and is performing the function automatically, just as the damaged side used to. As to whether full function is attained as previously enjoyed is a matter of conjecture but some function is infinitely better than none and as you use it more so it functions better.
Remember the old adage, ‘if you don’t use it, you lose it’, and surely with practise then ‘Every day, in every way you will get better and better and better’.
Hypnotherapy must never be considered as a panacea but like the drug Aspirin, it has been found to have very many more extremely powerful applications than even hypnotherapists dreamed of. However, this should come as no surprise as it employs the very power of the individual?s own mind to effect a suitable resolution to the individual?s own problems.

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