What Are Stroke Residuals?

Stroke residuals are the cognitive effects experienced by a person after he or she has a stroke. Strokes can be ischemic, meaning a blood clot causes the blockage of blood flow to a specific area of the brain, or they can be hemorrhagic, meaning the leakage or rupture of a blood vessel causes a loss of blood to a specific area of the brain. The three main regions of the brain that can be affected by a stroke are the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brainstem. Depending on which region the stroke impacts, the after-effects of the stroke may be different. For a stroke that occurs in the cerebrum, which is the largest part of the brain, impairments to some, or all, of the following processes could occur:

  • Movement and sensations
  • Vision
  • Speech and language
  • Eating and swallowing
  • Cognitive (thinking, reasoning, judgement, memory) ability
  • Perception and orientation to surroundings
  • Emotional control
  • Self-care ability
  • Bowel and bladder control

Specific impairments can also occur depending on which side of the cerebrum was affected by the stroke. For example, if a stroke occurred in the motor cortex of the right cerebrum, it would likely impact the veteran’s motor abilities on the left side of his or her body. If a stroke were to occur in the cerebellum, it would likely cause issues with balance, coordination, dizziness, or nausea because the cerebellum is where the body receives and coordinates information to and from the spinal cord to the rest of the body. Strokes in the brain stem, although even more rare than those that occur in the cerebellum, can cause a variety problems with:

  • Breathing and heart functions
  • Weakness or paralysis
  • Chewing, swallowing, and speaking
  • Vision
  • Body temperature control
  • Balance and coordination

Approximately 6,000 Veterans per year are admitted to VA medical facilities with a stroke, and the VA receives approximately 60,000 outpatient stroke-related visits annually. As strokes become one of the leading causes of outpatient medical utilization within the VA, the VA disability system has adjusted accordingly so that veteran’s who have experienced a stroke as a result of their military service can receive compensation for their condition. 

How Does The VA Rate Stroke Residuals?

Stroke residuals are only subject to VA disability compensation if the stroke was the result of a service connected condition or occurred while the veteran was still in the service. For example, some veterans may be able to obtain service connection for their stroke as secondary to post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because recent research has shown that PTSD increases the risk of stroke in young veterans. Once a veteran is able to connect his or her stroke to his or her service, the VA will rate the stroke using the appropriate schedular disability rating system. Under 38 CFR § 4.124a, the VA rates strokes (both ischemic and hemorrhagic) as follows:

  • Diagnostic Code 8007 Brain, vessels, embolism of: 100
  • Diagnostic Code 8008 Brain, vessels, thrombosis of: 100
  • Diagnostic Code 8009 Brain, vessels, hemorrhage from: 100

The condition will remain at a temporary and total 100 percent schedular disability rating for six months from the date of the stroke, after which the veteran will be reevaluated via VA examination to determine the severity of his or her stroke residuals. The minimum schedular disability rating for the veteran’s stroke residuals must be at least ten percent. Some examples of stroke residuals the veteran could receive a schedular disability rating for include paralysis (diagnostic codes 8205 through 8530), dizziness (diagnostic code 6204), and voiding dysfunction.

Getting Service Connection For Stroke Residuals

If you or someone you know is a veteran who recently suffered a stroke as a result of his or her military service or a condition caused by his or her military service, our experienced veterans disability lawyers are ready to help. Please contact our office today for a free case evaluation.