A stroke is distressing for both the patient and their family. It is caused by a disruption of the blood supply to a part of the brain, either by a blood clot (most common) or a weakened blood vessel. Strokes can result in problems with movement and balance, as well as a swallowing difficulty known as dysphagia.

Dysphagia, which occurs in around half of stroke patients, can also be brought on as a side effect of the treatment of some forms of cancer, as well as neurological disorders such as dementia, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis and other conditions. It can not only be an uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition, but also potentially a dangerous one, with patients at risk of choking and lung problems, including pneumonia.

The role of nutrition

Swallowing difficulties can lead to increased anxiety at mealtimes. The risk of drinks or food “going down the wrong way” leads to loss of enjoyment when eating or drinking with patients reducing their fluid and food intake out of worry. The levels of malnutrition and dehydration in stroke patients is high and can affect the recovery process.

It is important that stroke patients have nutritional ‘risk’ assessed by a qualified healthcare professionals and, if necessary, appropriate nutritional management put in place to improve the chances of recovery.

An effective and widely used way of managing dysphagia is to change the consistency and texture of food and drinks. This makes it easier and safer for people with swallowing difficulties to control their swallow, significantly reducing the chance of food or fluids entering the lungs, and ensuring they get the nutrition they need.

The patient journey

Learn more about how stroke has affected the life of a patient in The Netherlands. A multidisciplinary team, including a neurologist, rehabilitation doctor, speech language therapist and nurse work alongside to ensure the best possible recovery after stroke. Learn more about the experience of Prof Dr Rainer Wirth and Chef Neil.

Patient stories

Learn more about how stroke has affected the lives of two Polish patients with a moderate to severe stroke. Learn more about medical nutrition: Neurologist Dr Marta Bilik speaks about its role supporting recovery after stroke.

Meet Chef Neil

Neil Palliser-Bosomworth is an independent consultant chef with 20 years’ experience catering for different patient groups and their unique dietary needs.

Find out more about how we are helping people with dysphagia & stroke

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