This weakness or “floppiness” usually occurs on the side of the body opposite the side of the brain that has been damaged. So, when a stroke occurs on the right side of the brain, the left side of the body is affected the most. The damaged bit of your brain can't send the messages to make them work properly.
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Weakness caused by stroke
The weakness or floppiness is caused by changes in the “tone” of the muscles. Tone describes the amount of tension in your muscles, and how tight the muscles are. We need enough tone to allow us to do all the things we want to, such as walking around, but not so high as to make our muscles feel too stiff. If we have too little tone (floppiness) then it can make it difficult to balance or move around – even sitting up supported in a chair can be a real challenge in the early days after a stroke.
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Stiffness caused by stroke
The opposite of this; where the muscles are stiff, with too much tension, may be called “spasticity”. If your muscles are too tight it can be quite painful – sometimes described as pain similar to “athletic cramps” The tight muscles may cause your arm or leg to take up certain positions – a tight fist, a bent elbow, an arm pressed against the chest, a stiff knee and maybe even a pointed foot. Long periods of time held in these positions can lead to permanent changes in the muscles, preventing the joints from working properly. We call these changes “Contractures”.