The warning signs for a brain stem stroke can appear very similar to the symptoms of a stroke affecting other parts of the brain. Vertigo, dizziness, and lack of coordination are common. Unlike different types of strokes, the person is not likely to experience weakness on only one side of their body.
Because the brain stem plays a vital role in so many necessary bodily functions, a stroke that affects this part of the brain is extremely dangerous. This is a life-threatening medical emergency. Brain stem strokes may be hard to diagnose and cause a wide range of symptoms that affect everything from vision to speech to the person’s level of consciousness.
Signs and Symptoms of a Brain Stem Stroke
In many cases, the only way doctors will know where in the brain a stroke is occurring is by using medical imaging scans to pinpoint the blood clot or hemorrhage causing the stroke. The symptoms alone may not differentiate a brain stem stroke from a stroke affecting another area of the brain.
- Face drooping
- Sudden weakness or numbness, often in the face, arm, or leg
- Speech difficulty, including trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden vision changes
- Problems with walking, including loss of balance and coordination
- Dizziness and vertigo
- Severe headache, sometimes with nausea or vomiting
- Loss of consciousness
All strokes are medical emergencies. If someone you know experiences any of these warning signs for a brain stem stroke, do not hesitate to call 911.
Brain Stem Strokes Can Affect Many Vital Body Functions
Strokes that cut off or limit blood flow to the brain stem can affect the body in many different ways, including causing severe impairments, locked in syndrome, and even death. Because of the role the brain stem plays in keeping a body alive and functioning well, those who suffer brain stem strokes may require life-saving and life-sustaining treatment immediately.
The brain stem plays a part in almost every autonomic function of the body and serves as a conduit for many other functions. This includes:
- Blood pressure
- Motor function
- Sensory function
A stroke that damages the function of the brain stem can affect or impair any of these functions, including causing paralysis and loss of sensory functions. Sleep-wake patterns may be disturbed in some people. Rarely, complete injuries to the brain stem may cause the patient to suffer total paralysis except for vertical eye movement. This condition is known as locked in syndrome. Significant recovery from a complete injury is unlikely.
Treatment and Rehabilitation Following a Brain Stem Stroke
Treatment for a brain stem stroke depends on whether the stroke occurred because of a clot or a hemorrhage. The faster doctors can restore blood flow to the affected areas, the better the chances that rehabilitation will help, and the person will recover lost function.
Doctors can administer clot-busting drugs or use emergency procedures to stop a brain hemorrhage. This is why emergency medical care, a quick diagnosis, and immediate treatment are imperative in getting the best possible outcome.
Any stroke will leave the patient with some impairments or deficits, although the amount of recovery possible falls on a wide scale. Some people with minor brain injuries may almost fully recover their previous abilities and brain stem functions. Others may not recover any significant movement or even be able to breathe on their own. A doctor or therapist familiar with the case is the best place to learn more about an individual’s prognosis.
Talk to an Attorney About Pursuing Damages for Your Loved One After a Brain Stem Stroke
In some cases, the victims of brain stem strokes may be eligible to pursue compensation for their medical bills, lost wages, ongoing care costs, pain and suffering, and more. This is possible if someone else’s negligent actions caused or contributed to their brain stem injuries. For example:
- Stroke caused by a traumatic brain injury suffered in a car accident
- Stroke caused by a violent act, often a shooting or stabbing
- Stroke due to medical malpractice
- Delayed or incorrect diagnosis
- Delayed or incorrect treatment
At Newsome | Melton, our legal team is standing by to review your case for free. Our attorneys can take legal action on your behalf. Let us go to work today pursuing damages for your family. You can reach a member of our team now by calling (800) 917-5888.