There are several good stroke glossaries available from the medical community and they are listed at the end of the OSR glossary. The OSR glossary focuses on more practical definitions of terms and includes terms from the therapy and fitness phases of full recovery.
Abduction – Moving a limb away from the body. Opposite of Adduction. Moving away from the axis of the trunk as in raising arms to the side horizontally, leg sideways and scapula away from the spine.
Active Movement – Body or limb movement initiated and performed by patient. Opposite of Passive Movement.
Activities of Daily Living – The things people normally do in daily living including any daily activity they perform for self-care such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming, work, homemaking, and leisure. The ability or inability to perform ADLs is often used as a measure of ability/disability and establish the course or conclusion of medical treatment..
Adduction– Moving a limb toward the body. Opposite of Abduction. Moving toward the axis of the trunk, as in lowering the arms to the side or the leg back to position.
ADL – See Activities of Daily Living
AFib – See Atrial fibrillation
AFO – Ankle Foot Orthosis. A brace that is placed inside the bottom of the shoe, then rises along the ankle and lower leg, finally attachingbaround the upper calf. The AFO stabilizes the ankle and helps lift the front of the foot (dorsiflexion) when walking. While an AFO can get you walking better sooner, it can become a compensation that interferes with gaining active movement.
Air Splint – Clear plastic splint that surrounds the limb and is inflated with air used reduce spasticity and immobilize a joint to prevent or reduce contractures. Typically used on arm and legs.
Aneurysm – A weak spot in an artery that balloons out that is at high risk of rupturing and causing a hemorrhage. Often leads to a hemorrhagic stroke.
Aphasia – Speech difficulties in expressing or understanding that originate in speech centers of the brain. Distinctive from Dysarthria which are speech difficulties that originate in the muscles that support speech.
Apraxia – Muscle motor control difficulty. Muscles can be activated but not controlled and coordinated normally.
Ataxia – Difficulty maintaining proper balance and coordinating voluntary muscle movements.
Atrial fibrillation – An irregular heartbeat caused by an electrical problem in the atrium (top) of the heart that often goes undetected and can cause clots to form that lead to an ischemic stroke.
Atrophy – The deterioration of muscles due to lack of use.
Baclofen – A systemic drug taken as a pill that is often helpful in treating the spastic tone that can result from stroke. More Baclofin information.
Botox – A drug injected directly into the muscle that causes short-term (3 months) weakness of the muscle that can be helpful in treating the spastic tone that can result from stroke.
Carotid Artery Dissection
Carr and Shepard – A technique use in Physical Therapy. Also called the “motor relearning approach”.
Casting – A plaster cast similar to that used for broken limbs, but used to control spasticity and prevent contractures.
Cerebral – Referring to the brain.
Cerebral Vascular Accident – The official medical term for a stroke.
Circumduction – Circular movement of a joint, combining movements; possible in shoulder joint, hip joint and the trunk around a fixed point. Often seen when the leg is swung out to move the leg forward when walking in order to clear the foot.
Contracture – A limitation in range of motion in a joint from the shortening of muscles and ligaments, and joint stiffness, resulting from spasticity and lack of use.
Coumadin – See Warfarin
CVA – See Cerebral Vascular Accident
Dissection – When the layers of tissues of an artery separate due to injury allowing blood to seep between the and form a blood clot that can cause a stroke.
Dorsiflexion – Movement at ankle to move foot toward shin.
Dycum – A thin plastic sheet used to prevent slippage to assist stroke survivors in performing routine tasks.
Dysarthria – A speech disorder that has as its principle cause muscle dysfunction. The muscles of the mouth, face, and respiratory system may become weak, move slowly, or not move at all after a stroke or other brain injury making normal speech difficult or impossible..
Eliquis – One of a new generation of drugs often given to people after a stroke, or before if they are at high risk of stroke, such as those with Atrial Fibrillation. Eliquis slows down the rate at which blood clots. Often incorrectly referred to as a blood thinner. See Pradaxa and Xarelto. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor due to increased possibility of another stroke. More Eliquis information.
EStim – See Electrical Stim
Eversion – Turning sole of foot outward; weight on inner edge of foot.
Extension – Straightening, as in moving the hand away from the shoulder. Exception at shoulder and hip joints where a return movement of the upper arm or thigh bone downward is considered extension.
External Rotation – Rotation with axis of the bone away from the body, usually at shoulder and hip.
Flexoril – A systemic drug taken as a pill that is often helpful in treating the spastic tone that can result from stroke.
Flexion – Bending, as in bringing the hand to the shoulder. Exception and the shoulder and hip joints where movement of the upper arm or thigh bone to the front, upward is considered flexion.
Internal Rotation – Rotation with the axis of the bone toward the body, usually at shoulder and hip.
Inversion – Turning the sole of the foot inward, weight on the outer edge of the foot.
Lioresal – See Baclofen
NDT – Neuro Developmental Treatment. One of the treatment techniques in Physical Therapy. NDTA.org
OSR – Overcoming Stroke Resource
OT – Occupational Therapy
Passive Movement – Body or limb movement initiated and performed by others for patient. Opposite of Active Movement.
Passive Range of Motion
Plantarflexion -Ankle movement of pointing the foot down away from the body.
Pradaxa – One of a new generation of drugs often given to people after a stroke, or before if they are at high risk of stroke, such as those with Atrial Fibrillation. Pradaxa slows down the rate at which blood clots. Often incorrectly referred to as a blood thinner. See Eliquis and Xarelto. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor due to increased possibility of another stroke. More Pradaxa information.
Pronation – Rotation on the axis of a bone, as in the forearm to turn the palm of the hand down.
PT – Physical Therapy
PNF – Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation
SPT – Speech and Language Pathologist (Speech Therapy)
Supination – Rotation on the axis of a bone, specifically applied to the forearm to turn the palm of the hand up.
TIA – See Transient Ischemic Attack
Transient Ischemic Attack
Warfarin – A long established drug often given to people after a stroke, or before if they are at high risk of stroke, such as those with Atrial Fibrillation. Warfarin slows down the rate at which blood clots. Often incorrectly referred to as a blood thinner. Same as Coumidin. More Warfarin information.
WBV – Whole Body Vibration. A platform or bench that vibrates that can be helpful in stretching and strengthening muscles weakened by stroke. A popular consumer model is made by Soloflex. The belief is vibration technology forces the muscles to react by contracting and relaxing involuntarily; causing an increase in blood flow to muscles, tendons, ligaments, and tissues.
Vertebral Artery Dissection
Xarelto – One of a new generation of drugs often given to people after a stroke, or before if they are at high risk of stroke, such as those with Atrial Fibrillation. Xarelto slows down the rate at which blood clots. Often incorrectly referred to as a blood thinner. See Eliquis and Pradaxa. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor due to increased possibility of another stroke. More Xarelto information.
Additional Stroke Glossaries