United States Department of Veterans Affairs
 Resources & Education for Stroke Caregivers' Understanding & Empowerment

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Glossary of Terms

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M


N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z




A

Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) — The normal everyday tasks that people do including activities performed for self-care (such as feeding ourselves, bathing, dressing, grooming), work, homemaking and leisure.

Aerobic exercise (a-RO-bik) — Any activity that uses large muscle groups, can be maintained continuously and is rhythmic in nature. Walking or riding a bike are good examples. Do 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week or 20 minutes of intense exercise 3 days a week.

Aneurysm (AN-yuh-riz-uhm) — An abnormal widening or weakness in the wall of a portion of a blood vessel. It causes bleeding if it ruptures.

Aneurysm clipping (AN-yuh-riz-uhm) — Surgical procedure in which a metal clamp is placed on the base of an aneurysm to prevent it from rupturing or bleeding more.

Angioplasty (AN-jee-uh-plas-tee) — Surgical repair of a narrow or blocked blood vessel, the procedure involves temporarily inflating a tiny balloon inside the vessel to break up plaque.

Anticoagulant (an-tee-ko-AG-ye-lent) — Medicine that helps prevent the clotting of blood. These drugs tend to prevent new clots from forming or existing clots from enlarging. Heparin** and warfarin** are examples of anticoagulants.

Antidepressant (an-tee-di-PRES-uhnt) — Medication used to treat depression.

Antiplatelet (an-tee-PLAT-lit) — Medicine that blocks the formation of blood clots by destroying blood platelets. Aspirin** is a common antiplatelet medication.

Apathy (AP-uh-thee) — Lack of motivation or enthusiasm.

Aphasia (uh-FEY-zhuh) — Loss or impairment of the ability to express or
understand spoken or written words.

Apraxia (uh-PRAK-see-uh) — Speech disorder in which a person has trouble saying what he or she wants to say correctly and consistently. The speech may sound flat, the person’s tone may not change or they may only say one syllable at a time.

Arrhythmia (uh-RITH-mee-uh) — Abnormal heart rate or heart rhythm, such as beating too fast, too slow or irregularly.

Arteriovenous malformation (ahr-TEER-ee-oh-VEE-nuhs) — Or AVM, is an abnormal connection between veins and arteries.

Aspiration (AS-puh-rey-shun) — When food or liquid goes into the windpipe and lungs instead of down the esophagus to the stomach.

Attention (uh-TEN-shun) — Involves focusing on a single object or thought, while ignoring other things.


C

Carotid arteries (kuh-ROT-id) — Two large blood vessels that supply the brain with oxygenated blood.

Carotid endarterectomy (en-dahr-tuh-REK-tuh-mee) — Surgical procedure used to remove plaque from the carotid arteries. This helps to restore blood flow and prevent a new or recurrent stroke.

Cognition  (kog-NISH-uhn) — The process of thinking and knowing things.

Condom catheter (KATH-et-er) — External catheter used to collect urine in men. A pouch-like device fits over the penis and connects to a drainage bag.

Constraint-Induced Movement Therapy (kuhn-STREYNT) — Or CIMT, is a form of therapy that helps stroke victims regain the use of affected limbs. It involves restricting movement in the strong arm so the weak arm is used.

Contractures (kuhn-TRAK-cher) — Shortening of muscles, tendons and ligaments resulting in deformity. Most often in a joint of the body.

Coronary Artery Disease (KOR-uh-ner-ee)— Or CAD, is a narrowing of the small blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the heart.


D

Deep venous thrombosis (throm-BOH-sis) — Clot formation in the veins of the legs. It can block blood flow and cause swelling and pain.

Dehydration (dee-hy-DREY-shuhn) — Condition in which the body does not have as much water and fluids as it should.

Dementia (dih-MEN-shee-uh) — Loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment and behavior.

Depression (dih-PRESH-uhn) — Five or more of the following signs or symptoms that last more than two weeks: sadness or an “empty” mood; feeling guilty, worthless or helpless; problems concentrating, remembering or making decisions; appetite and/or weight changes; feeling hopeless; lack of energy or feeling tired and “slowed down”; problems with sleep; feeling restless or irritable; loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities; thoughts of suicide.

Diabetes Mellitus (mel-I-tuhs) — Problem with how the body uses sugar for energy. High blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels. This can lead to stroke.

Disorientation (dis-OR-ee-uhn-TEY-shuhn) — State of mental confusion as to time, place or identity.

Do Not Resuscitate order (ri-SUHS-i-teyt) — Or DNR, states not to revive a person whose heart stops beating or who stops breathing.

Durable Power of Attorney (DOOR-uh-buhl) — Or POA, is a legal contract that gives someone the right to act for another person. This could include making financial or legal decisions.

Dysarthria (dis-AHR-three-uh) — Loss or impairment of the ability to produce speech. Speech is slurred, slow or difficult to understand. Controlling the pitch, loudness, rhythm and voice qualities of speech can also be affected.

Dysphagia (dis-FEY-zhuh) — Difficulty in swallowing either liquids or solids.


E

Emotional lability (luh-bil-i-tee) — Describes someone with strong emotions that change frequently. These emotions are close to the surface and difficult to control.

Endoscopy (en-DOS-kuh-pee) — Procedure used to look inside the body using a small camera.

Erectile dysfunction (dis-FUNGK-shuhn) — Or ED, is when a man has difficulty getting or keeping an erection. This may be a direct result of stroke or it may also be a result of poor health, stress or depression. ED can be treated with lifestyle changes or with medicines like Viagra®**.

Estate Planning (ih-STEYT) — Developing a plan for others to manage assets if a person dies or becomes incapable. Estate planning can include writing wills and naming beneficiaries, creating trusts and making funeral arrangements.


F

Fatigue (fuh-TEEG) — Loss of energy or strength.

Flexibility exercise (FLEK-suh-BIL-uh-tee) — Forms of stretching that help keep joints flexible and lower the chance of injury during daily life and exercise.

Foley catheter (FOH-lee) — Small tube inserted through the urethra and into the bladder to drain urine. It may stay in place for a short or long time depending on the reason for its use.


G

Guardianship (GAHR-dee-uhn-ship) — The court appoints someone to make decisions when a person no longer can and decides when a person cannot make decisions. The family may need this if other advance planning documents are not in place.


H

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — Or HIPPA, provides privacy for a person’s medical records.

Hemiparesis (hem-ee-puh-REE-sis) — Weakness affecting one whole side of the body, when muscles are weak they do not move as easily and may feel heavy or numb.

Hemiplegia (he-mi-PLEE-jee-uh) — Inability to move a group of muscles, or paralysis, on one side of the body.

Hemorrhagic stroke (hem-o-RAJ-ik) — A stroke caused when a blood vessel to the brain bursts, causing bleeding within the brain.

High blood cholesterol (kuh-LEHS-tuh-rawl) — Cholesterol is a waxy substance produced in the body. It can stick to the walls of your arteries, leading to heart disease and stroke.

Hypertension (hi-per-TEN-shuhn) — Chronic high blood pressure in the arteries. It is a risk factor for stoke and can be controlled with medicine and lifestyle changes.


I

Ischemic stroke (is-KEM-ik) — A stroke caused by a clot blocking a blood vessel to the brain. This prevents the brain from getting the oxygen it needs. It is the most common type of stroke.


J

Joint Accounts — Allow another person to handle someone’s affairs. These can be checking, investment or other accounts.


L

Learning (LUR-ning) — Processing or taking in new information.

Living Trust — Appoints someone to handle the property and funds of another person that becomes unable to. Trust instructions state how assets should be distributed at death and can avoid the expense and delay of probate.


M

Malnutrition (mal-noo-TRISH-uhn) — Condition in which the body does not get enough nutrients.

Muscle spasticity (spas-TIS-eh-tee) — Condition in which muscles become stiff or rigid resulting in limited movement.


N

Nasogastric tube (NEY-zoh-GAS-trik) — Or NG, tube is a narrow tube that is placed through the nose into the stomach. This allows for contents of the stomach to be removed. Also, nutrients can be placed directly into the stomach when a patient  cannot eat or drink by mouth.

Neurologist (noo-ROL-uh-jist) — Doctor who diagnoses and treats neurological disorders.

Neuropsychologist (noo-ro-sy-KOL-o-jist)— Doctor of psychology who studies the brain and its functions. They conduct tests and work with neurologists to treat problems.


O

Obesity (oh-BEE-seh-tee)— Excessive body fat resulting in a body weight that is much greater than what is considered healthy.

Occupational Therapist (ok-yuh-PAY-shuhn-uhl) — Healthcare professional who provides interventions that help people be as independent as possible in their daily activities at home, on the job and in the community.

Orthoptist (or-THOP-test) — Evaluate and treat disorders of vision, eye movements and eye alignment.


P

Paralysis (puh-RAL-uh-sis) — Loss of muscle function for one or more muscle groups. It can cause loss of feeling or loss of mobility in the affected area.

Parkinson's disease (PAR-kin-sons)— Disorder of the brain that leads to shaking and difficulty with walking, movement and coordination.

Perception (per-SEP-shun) — Involves making sense of what you see, hear, touch, smell and taste.

Periodic limb movement disorder (peer-ee-ODD-ik) — Repetitive cramping or jerking of the legs during sleep.

Pessary (PES-uh-ree) — Form of treatment for urinary incontinence in which a device is placed into the vagina to support the bladder.

Physical Therapist (FIZ-eh-kuhl) — Healthcare professional who works with people to develop, maintain and restore maximum movement and function.

Pneumonia (noo-MOHN-yuh) — Inflammation of the lungs causing symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath, fever or chest pain.

Pressure sore (PRESH-uhr)— Area of injured skin and tissue caused by decreased blood flow. Results from laying or sitting too long, with boney areas such as the heels, elbows, hips and tailbone most commonly affected.

Psychotherapy (SY-ko-THER-uhpee) — Form of treatment for mental or
emotional disorder. It involves talking with a trained professional and may be used in conjunction with medication.

Pulmonary embolism (EM-buh-liz-uhm) — Blockage in an artery of the lungs by a blood clot. The clot breaks off from smaller vessels in the legs, pelvis, arms or heart and travels to the lungs.


R

Restless leg syndrome (SIN-drohm) — Disorder in which there is an urge or need to move the legs to stop unpleasant sensations. Symptoms usually occur at night when you lie down or during the day when you sit for too long. Sensations may be described as creeping, crawling, aching, pulling, searing, tingling or bubbling.


S

Sleep apnea (AP-nee-uh) — Abnormal breathing patterns such as one or more pauses in breathing or shallow breaths while you sleep. Loud snoring, choking and gasping sounds are signs of this condition.

Speech-Language Pathologist (puh-THOL-uh-jist) — Rehabilitation professional who works to restore language and help with communication and swallowing problems.

Strengthening exercise (STREN-thuh-ning)— Exercises to improve muscle strength, such as lifting weights, sit-ups and push-ups. Perform muscle strengthening exercises at least two times a week.


T

Tai chi (tie-CHEE)— Originally developed in ancient China for self-defense, it has changed into a form of exercise. It is used to reduce stress and to help with a variety of other health conditions.

Tissue Plasminogen Activator (paz-MIN-uh-jen) — Or tPA, is a medicine used to break up blood clots. It must be given as soon as possible, usually within 4 hours after stroke symptoms start.

Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (trans-koo-TEY-nee-uhs)— Or TENS, is a pain management technique in which a mild electrical current is sent through patches placed on the skin.

Transient Ischemic Attack (TRAN-zee-uhnt) — Or TIA, produces stroke-like symptoms but does not result in lasting damage. It is often referred to as a mini stroke it is a warning sign that the risk of stroke is high.


U

Urinary incontinence (in-KON-tuh-nents) — Loss of bladder control resulting in unexpected urine leakage.


V

Verbal memory (vur-BUHL) — Includes remembering names, stories or information related to language or words. Affected by strokes of the right side of the body.

Visual memory (VIZH-oo-uhl) — Includes remembering faces, shapes or things you see. Often impaired with strokes of the left side of the body.

Visual neglect (ni-GLEKT) — Inability to see to one side.


W

Will — States how a person wants assets distributed at death and lists who is in charge, may include other instructions such as funeral wishes.


**Brand Name and Medicine Disclaimer: Brand names and types of medicines are provided as examples only. Their inclusion does not mean that these products are endorsed by VA or any other Government agency. Also, if a particular brand name is not mentioned, this does not mean or imply that the product is unsatisfactory.



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These materials were created for the project:

Web-Based Informational Materials for Caregivers of Veterans Post-Stroke

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