If you or a loved one have symptoms that may indicate you are having a stroke, the doctor should order some imaging scan. This often includes magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computerized tomography (CT) scan, Doppler ultrasound, or an angiogram. These tests allow the doctor to see any blood clots or hemorrhages that might be causing your stroke.
Until the doctor understands where the problem is in the brain, he or she cannot accurately diagnose the stroke or put a plan in place to treat it and minimize the damage done. There may be some treatment options that can help the patient get a better outcome if administered quickly.
Understanding the Dangers of Brain Stem Stroke
The brain stem is in charge of many vital functions, so a stroke that affects this area of the brain can be life-threatening. Proper functioning of the brain stem is necessary for the central nervous system — and all sensory and motor functions — to operate correctly. This includes such vital tasks as:
- Blood pressure
- Heart rate
- Sensory input
Depending on the area of the brain stem affected by a stroke, a stroke can cause problems with any of these functions. When a stroke affects both sides of the brain stem, the person could be conscious but unable to move most parts of their body. Vertical eye movement is often the only remaining movement. This condition is known as locked in syndrome.
Additional Testing Is Often Necessary to Diagnose a Brain Stem Stroke
A crucial part of diagnosing a stroke is understanding where it occurred and what parts of the brain it affects. Because a stroke in the brain stem can affect a wide variety of bodily functions, a patient suspected of having a brain stem stroke may undergo:
- Heart tests, including electrocardiogram and echocardiogram
- Kidney function testing
- Liver function testing
- Blood tests
- Motor function testing
- Sensory input testing
Even once the doctors diagnose a brain stem stroke, additional tests are likely. A medical professional will want to understand how swelling may be affecting the brain, and how the brain begins to heal. Scans and doppler testing allow doctors to keep tabs on any changes to the brain in the hours and days following a stroke.
Treatment, Rehabilitation, and Recovery After a Brain Stem Stroke
A diagnosis is only the first step in dealing with a brain stem stroke. Treatment and rehabilitation are also important parts of getting the best possible outcome following this type of devastating medical emergency.
Treating Brain Stem Strokes
Brain stem strokes generally occur in one of two ways: a blood clot that cuts off blood flow to the brain stem, or a hemorrhage that prevents blood from reaching the area. The faster the blood flow returns to the affected area, the better.
Doctors can sometimes give medication to dissolve a clot or use a procedure to stop bleeding in the brain. This may lead to better outcomes for the patient. For this reason, it is imperative patients have a doctor diagnose a brain stem stroke and get treated as soon as possible.
Recovery Following a Brain Stem Stroke
The impairments suffered following a brain stem stroke can vary widely. Some people experience only minor deficits while others with complete damage to both sides of the brain stem may be conscious and aware but paralyzed. Factors that play a role in the severity of the injury include:
- The location of the stroke
- How completely the blood flow was blocked
- How quickly the patient got treatment
Most patients who survive a brain stem stroke go to a rehabilitation facility following their release from the hospital. There, he or she can regain skills and rebuild strength. For those with locked in syndrome or other complete injuries, significant recovery of movement is unlikely.
Talk to an Attorney About Pursuing Compensation Following a Brain Stem Stroke
If you or a loved one suffers a brain stem stroke, you may be able to pursue damages in civil court. Some brain stem strokes occur naturally, but in some cases, negligence causes or exacerbates the lasting effects of the stroke. Some common ways this can happen include:
- A stroke due to a traumatic brain injury from a car accident
- A traumatic brain injury related to a violent attack
- Stroke due to medical malpractice
- Delayed or incorrect diagnosis due to medical malpractice
- Delayed or incorrect treatment due to medical malpractice
The attorneys from Newsome | Melton offer free case evaluations. We will take legal action on your behalf and pursue compensation for your family that includes:
- Medical care costs
- Ongoing and future care costs
- Lost wages and diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering and other non-economic damages
- Wrongful death damages
Call us today at (800) 917-5888 for your free initial consultation with a member of our team.