The cognitive, emotional, and social sequelae of stroke: psychological and ethical concerns in post-stroke adaptation

Top Stroke Rehabil. 2006 Fall;13(4):26-35. doi: 10.1310/tsr1304-26.


In the clinical domain, ethical analyses involve examination of complex individual responses, psychological processes, and social context. Psychological aspects of stroke adaptation include the risk for depression and anxiety, changes in identity and personality processes, and potential for social isolation. Depression and anxiety are heterogeneous constructs and can affect individuals' emotional functioning and cognitive abilities. Executive function, self-agency, and volition may be affected. Alterations in identity and personality may also result from the interaction of fluctuating emotional, cognitive, and physical abilities as well as from changes in social context and family dynamics. Social isolation, or lack of access to social contact or resources, can be a consequence of difficulties in cognitive and emotional function that influence interpersonal relationships, changes in social roles, communication difficulties, and challenges in transportation and employment. Social stigma and marginalization also contribute to isolation. The authors describe these psychological phenomena in the context of brain damage and recovery and raise ethical concerns including impact on decision-making capacity, pre- and postinjury selves and interests, and the social milieu in which strokes are experienced.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethics, Clinical*
  • Humans
  • Mental Competency*
  • Mental Disorders / etiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Personality
  • Social Isolation / psychology
  • Stroke / psychology*
  • Stroke / therapy*