Here is a list of the major scientific terms used throughout this website:
Aneurysm: the ballooning of a particular blood vessel that weakens it. If left untreated, aneurysms can lead to the rupture of blood vessels, which, if found within the brain, can lead to hemorrhagic stroke.
Aphasia: a medical term that refers to the loss of one's ability to either produce or understand speech because of brain damage. There are three different types: Broca's aphasia (lose ability to produce speech), Wernicke's aphasia (lose ability to understand speech), and global aphasia (lose ability to produce and understand speech).
Apraxia: the weakening or inability to move muscles. Depending on the brain region affected, the muscles could be anywhere on the body.
Arrhythmia: the scientific name for an irregular heartbeat.
Arteriovenous malformation (AVM): a tangle of arteries (the blood vessels that carry oxygen and other nutrients to the brain so it can work properly) and veins (the blood vessels that carry carbon dioxide and other waste products so they can be expelled properly) that deprives the brain of oxygen and substantially increases the chance that one of these blood vessels will rupture.
Artery: type of blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to other internal organs. With a few exceptions, arteries carry blood and other nutrients to make sure that those organs, including the brain, are working properly.
Assistive devices: items such as canes or walkers that can be used to support the affected body part in hemiparesis.
Atherosclerosis: deposits of fat that line blood vessels. These deposits are the major cause of ischemic stroke because they increase the risk of blood clots.
Atrial fibrillation (AFib or AF): a type of irregular heartbeat that can increase risk of ischemic stroke by allowing clots that may have happened elsewhere in the body to travel up to the brain.
Botulinum toxin (Botox): a poison that is injected in very small doses into muscles normally for cosmetic purposes. It can also be used to help decrease muscle contractions if someone who suffered a stroke now lives with spasticity.
Brain stem: the area below the base of the skull that controls the automatic processes that we take for granted, such as breathing, swallowing, and our heartbeat. A stroke to this particular area can prove fatal because we cannot live without these particular processes.
Broca's aphasia: also known as expressive aphasia. This describes the inability to produce language or speech.
Broca's area: the area on the left side of the brain that controls language production. It is the area affected in Broca's or expressive aphasia.
Catheter: a small, plastic tube that is usually inserted into the bladder and threaded all the way up to the arteries in the brain. It allows doctors to administer drugs into blood vessels without cutting the body open.
Carotid artery: a big artery that runs through the neck up to the brain.
Carotid artery disease: a disease where fatty plaque deposits found within the carotid artery increase the chance of someone having a stroke.
Carotid endarterectomy: a procedure conducted when a clot is found in the carotid artery. It scrapes all of the fatty deposits out of the blood vessel to reduce the chance of it clotting again.
Carotid ultrasonography: sound waves are sent from a wand-like device into the tissue found in the neck. The sound waves then bounce off the tissue and return to the wand, creating a reconstruction of the veins in the neck. This non-invasive procedure is commonly used when the healthcare team believes that the carotid artery is partially or fully blocked.
Cerebral Autosomal Dominant Arteriopathy with Subcortical Infarcts and Leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL): a genetic disorder that leads to the thickening of blood vessels walls, which makes it more likely that a blood clot could partially or completely block blood flow to the brain. This makes it a risk factor for having a stroke.
Cerebral thrombosis: the process of forming a blood clot, or thrombus, in a blood vessel that supplies the brain with blood.
Cerebral embolism: an embolism that happens in a blood vessel that supplies the brain with blood, carrying oxygen and nutrients.
Cerebrum: the largest part of the brain that controls the majority of functions. It is also known as the cerebral cortex.
Cholesterol: a type of fat that is needed to make essential vitamins, hormones, and the cells within our body. Even though cholesterol is necessary, there are good and bad types. See HDL and LDL cholesterol for more details.
Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM): a branch of stroke treatment options that includes herbal remedies, acupuncture, art and music therapy, and many others. Even though some of these remedies are supported by scientific literature, it is important to remember that most of them are supported by anecdotal evidence. This means that they might work for some people under very specific circumstances, but have not been proven to work effectively for the majority of stroke patients. However, these therapies may be a good alternative treatment option when coordinated with a healthcare professional.
Contralateral control: the left side of the brain controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the body.
Contrast: a type of dye typically used in angiograms to help better visualize blood vessels on CT and MRI scans.
Coronary heart disease: a type of heart disease where the coronary arteries (the arteries that supply blood to the heart muscles) are filled with deposits of fat. This can increase the risk of having a stroke.
Computerized tomography (CT) scan: a machine that is able to get an internal picture of the brain without cutting into it. It is the most cost-effective and time-effective tool to diagnose the type of stroke.
Cryptogenic: a stroke event without any known cause, despite running various tests to determine them.
CT angiogram (CTA): A catheter is inserted into the bladder and threaded all the way up to the brain and a dye called contrast is injected to better visualize blood vessels on the CT scans.
Diabetes: type I: blood sugar is not controlled because the molecule that helps to lower high blood sugar levels, insulin, is not made by the body. This normally starts from birth or develops shortly after birth. Type II: blood sugar is not controlled because the body does not listen to insulin when it tries to signal that blood sugar is high. This usually develops later in life due to poor nutrition and a lack of exercise.
Dysarthria: "mumbled" speech that results from limited movement of the lips, tongue, or mouth.
Dysphagia: difficulty swallowing
Dysphasia: another name for Aphasia, the medical term that refers to the inability to comprehend and/or express speech.
Dyspraxia: a mild form of apraxia. See Apraxia for more details.
Echocardiography/Echocardiogram: a transducer that sends out sound waves into the chest cavity to get a picture of blood vessels around the heart. The healthcare team is looking to see if any blood vessels look abnormally narrow or blocked.
Electrical stimulation: a therapy used to treat hemiparesis that involves sending electrical signals from an electrode to the weakened muscles on the affected side. This forces those muscles to contract, which can improve their functioning.
Embolism: a blood clot that is dislodged from one blood vessel only to fully block another (typically smaller) blood vessel elsewhere in the body.
Esophagus: the tube located in the neck that connects the mouth to the stomach.
Frontal lobe: the front of the cerebral cortex that plays a role in reasoning, impulse control and decision making.
Hemiparesis: a weakening or paralysis of one side of the body. This side is opposite the hemisphere of the brain that experienced the stroke.
Hemisphere: one side of the brain. There are two hemispheres that make up the brain: the left and the right hemispheres.
Hemispheric neglect: see Spatial Inattention.
Hemorrhagic: the rupture of a weakened blood vessel going to the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures. The main causes are either an aneurysm or an arteriovenous malformation (AVM).
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol: "good" cholesterol that sends unneeded cholesterol to the liver where it is excreted. High levels of this lower your risk of having a stroke while, in men, low levels of this increase your risk of having a stroke.
Hypertension: the scientific name for high blood pressure.
Ideational apraxia: the term that describes when someone cannot plan movements in relation to objects.
Ideomotor apraxia: the inability to make a prompted motor movement in response to a verbal command. For example, if someone tells the patient to lift his right arm and he cannot, this is ideomotor apraxia.
Incontinence: the inability to control one's ability to go to the bathroom.
Intra-arterial: within an artery (the type of blood vessel that carries oxygen and other essential nutrients to all of the organs in our body, especially the brain).
Intra-arterial thrombolysis: this is a scientific term used for the process that breaks up a blood clot in a large blood vessel within 6 hours of the onset of symptoms or after 4.5 hours in a small blood vessel. Intra-arterial refers to
Intracranial: within the brain
Ischemic: the partial or complete blockage of a blood vessel going to the brain. It means that the brain lacks the oxygen necessary for it to function.
Limb-kinetic apraxia: the inability to make subtle and precise motor movements. It usually is used in reference to a large limb like an arm or a leg.
Lipoprotein: a molecule that carries cholesterol through the bloodstream (cholesterol cannot mix with blood- it needs a carrier protein).
Lobe: a part of the brain's cerebrum. There are 4 main lobes of the cerebrum that serve different functions: frontal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, and temporal lobe.
Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol: "bad" cholesterol that allows for fatty deposits to build up in blood vessels. These deposits can form plaques (atherosclerosis), which can increase one's chance of having a stroke.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): a technology that allows for three dimensional imaging of the brain. This is used for detecting very small blood clots and is two times as expensive as CT scans.
Mechanical thrombectomy: a procedure done by a doctor when a blood clot is found in either the carotid artery or the middle cerebral artery. The doctor places a stent into the blood vessel to physically keep that particular blood vessel open.
Meta-analysis: a study that analyzes published, peer-reviewed scientific journals to determine if there are any patterns that can be determined.
Modified constraint-induced therapy (mCIT): therapy used to treat hemiparesis that forces the affected side or limb to be used. This force of regular practice may help to improve nerve function.
MR angiogram (MRA): A catheter is inserted into the bladder and threaded all the way up to the brain and a dye called contrast is injected to better visualize blood vessels on the MRI pictures.
Neglect: see Spatial Inattention.
Neurologist: a doctor who studies problems with the nervous system. It is common to be referred to a neurologist after being treated for a stroke if you are presenting any symptoms such as ataxia, aphasia, or any other physical effects.
Occipital lobe: a lobe of the cerebral cortex that primarily integrates all visual information from the eyes.
Occlude: to block. This verb is typically used when referring to blood flow.
Oral apraxia: a subtype of apraxia where the patient is unable to produce fluid and intelligible speech. However, speech still appears somewhat normal and under one's own control.
Parietal Lobe: a lobe of the cerebral cortex that plays a role in sensation and the consolidation of visual information.
Pelvic floor training exercises (Kegel exercises): exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles (the bottom of the core muscles) to help improve bladder control.
Peripheral artery disease: a disease where atherosclerosis (increased buildup of fatty deposits) is found within arteries throughout the body. This increases the chances of developing carotid artery disease, which increases the chance of one having a stroke.
Plaque: deposits of fat that stick to blood vessel walls and increase the risk of having a stroke.
Platelet: a component found in blood that plays a major role in the clotting process.
Prompted voiding: a technique that schedules bathroom breaks at specific times to help with incontinence. The goal is to increase the time between these scheduled breaks.
Pseudobulbar affect (PBA): a disorder of the nervous system that is characterized by events of involuntary laughing or crying. They may be prompted by a sad or happy experience like when watching a funny movie, but will last a lot longer than is appropriate and is very difficult to stop. This is because the stroke has affected a part of the brain that regulates emotion and can be treated through antidepressants or therapy.
Silent cerebral infarction (SCI): also known as "silent stroke." SCI refers to a stroke event that has occurred with no symptoms. They are rare, and are very hard to treat since, when it comes to stroke, time is brain.
Spasticity: the sudden and involuntary contraction of muscles that tends to be painful and interferes with daily life. The muscles can also become extremely stiff and resist any form of stretching to loosen them. This can be resolved through physical rehabilitation as well as braces to look specific parts of the body into place.
Spatial inattention: This is also known as neglect or hemispheric neglect.
Stent: a small plastic or metal tube that is inserted into a blood vessel that keeps it open to prevent it from clotting again.
Stroke: the partial and complete lack of oxygen supply to the brain. This can happen when a blot clot (ischemic stroke) occurs or this can happen when a blood vessel ruptures (hemorrhagic stroke).
Subarachnoid: a medical word that refers to a space between two specific layers of the skull. It is between two layers known as the arachnoid and the pia layers. The
Temporal lobe: one lobe of the cerebral cortex that plays important roles in regulating emotion, fear, and memory.
Thrombosis: the process of forming a thrombus, or blood clot.
Thrombus: the scientific name for a blood clot.
"Time is brain:" a common phrase used to emphasize that the quicker that someone who had a stroke gets to the hospital, the more likely they are to preserve normal functioning of the brain.
Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA): a drug that is administered using a catheter to break up a blood clot within 4 and a half hours of the onset of symptoms.
Transducer: a device that sends out sound waves that can be used for imaging purposes when CT or MRI scans cannot find the stroke's cause.
Transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE): a procedure where a transducer that emits sounds waves is placed into the esophagus (the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach), which is located right behind the heart. This allows for better imaging and can sometimes see things that a regular echocardiogram cannot.
Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA): a "mini-stroke" where a temporary blood clot disrupts blood flow to the brain. Even though it goes away without any medical intervention, it is a huge risk factor for a full-blown stroke and needs to be addressed.
Urgency control: when you feel the need to go, this technique employs deep breathing and relaxation techniques to help and ignore the need to go. The most common one is to count down from 100.
Vascular dementia: a specific type of memory loss or inability to properly reason,
Vein: a vessel that carries blood from the organs back to the heart. Except for a few exceptions, his blood is full of carbon dioxide and other waste products that need to be expelled.
Verbal apraxia: a subtype of apraxia where the patient cannot say what they want to say consistently or clearly.
Visual midline shift: a disorder where things that used to appear straight now appear slightly tilted. This is because the integration of spatial information does not match that of the visual information coming from the eye. This is typically fixed through rehabilitation and the use of yoked prism glasses.
Wernicke's aphasia: the inability to comprehend language after damage to Wernicke's area. It is also known as receptive aphasia.
Wernicke's area: the area on the left side of the brain closer to the back that controls language comprehension. This is the area affected in Wernicke's aphasia.
Yoked prism glasses: special glasses that are used for rehabilitation of visual disturbances caused by stroke. They can help with neglect, spatial midline shift, and other issues that result after stroke.