Basal Ganglia Stroke

Basal Ganglia Stroke: What Is It?

The basal ganglia is a group of brain structures located deep within the brain stem. These areas include the cerebellum, thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala and hippocampus. They are responsible for controlling motor functions such as voluntary muscle movement and involuntary reflexes like breathing or heartbeat. The basal ganglia also controls many other bodily processes including digestion, heart rate and blood pressure.

What Are the Symptoms of Basal Ganglia Stroke?

In most cases, basal ganglia stroke occurs when there is damage to one or more of these brain regions. There may be no obvious signs of injury; however, it’s important to note that some patients with basal ganglia stroke experience weakness on one side of their body (paralysis) while others have difficulty speaking or understanding speech. Some patients develop hallucinations, delusions and even personality changes.

How Is Basal Ganglia Stroke Diagnosed?

There are two main ways that doctors diagnose basal ganglia stroke: neuroimaging and physical examination. Neuroimaging involves looking at the patient’s brain using specialized equipment. Physical exam includes asking questions about the patient’s behavior, mental status and general well being. A neurologist will perform both tests to make sure they’re all normal before making a diagnosis of basal ganglia stroke.

What Causes Basal Ganglia Stroke?

The most common cause of basal ganglia stroke is atherosclerosis, or hardening of the arteries. As people get older, plaque builds up on their blood vessel walls which restricts the flow of blood. If this plaque breaks off from the walls and enters the bloodstream, it can lodge in small vessels and cut off blood flow to certain parts of the brain.

What’s Involved in Basal Ganglia Stroke Treatment?

There is no medication that can dissolve the blood clots that cause basal ganglia stroke. Instead, doctors focus on preventing further strokes by employing blood thinners and other anti-clotting drugs. To prevent more damage from being done to the brain, doctors will also employ surgery or alternative treatments to remove the blood clot.

What’s Involved in Basal Ganglia Stroke Recovery?

There is no cure for a basal ganglia stroke, which means recovery can take months or even years. During this time, the patient should focus on taking it easy. This prevents the brain from becoming overworked and fatigued. It’s also important to follow a healthy diet and avoid activities that might trigger another stroke such as smoking. If doctors detect hemorrhaging during the stroke, they may employ surgery or other treatment options to prevent any further damage.

How Can I Help Someone Who Is Recovering from a Basal Ganglia Stroke?

It’s important for the people around the patient to recognize the signs of a stroke and know how to respond. If someone is having trouble with vision, speech or movement, it’s time to call 9-1-1 immediately. After the emergency crew arrives, it’s best to remain calm and avoid arguing. Instead, try to keep everyone calm and offer your support. If you’re outside, stay with the patient until help arrives.

Most people who suffer from a basal ganglia stroke make a full recovery after undergoing treatment. During the recovery process, it’s important to rest as much as possible and seek out support from friends and family.

Is Basal Ganglia Stroke Preventable?

There are steps you can take to reduce your risk of having a basal ganglia stroke such as quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy diet and managing high blood pressure. If you do everything in your power to maintain a healthy lifestyle, it can cut your risk of having a stroke in half.

Sources & references used in this article:

Providing explicit information disrupts implicit motor learning after basal ganglia stroke by LA Boyd, CJ Winstein – Learning & memory, 2004 – learnmem.cshlp.org

Motor sequence chunking is impaired by basal ganglia stroke by LA Boyd, JD Edwards, CS Siengsukon… – Neurobiology of learning …, 2009 – Elsevier

Changes in cognitive function after neuronal cell transplantation for basal ganglia stroke by CS Stilley, CM Ryan, D Kondziolka, A Bender… – Neurology, 2004 – AAN Enterprises

Bipolar disorder following a left basal-ganglia stroke by G Turecki, JDJ Mari, JA Del Porto – The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1993 – cambridge.org

Mineralizing angiopathy with infantile basal ganglia stroke after minor trauma by L Lingappa, RD Varma, S Siddaiahgari… – … Medicine & Child …, 2014 – Wiley Online Library

Cortical abnormalities and language function in young patients with basal ganglia stroke by A Rowan, F Vargha-Khadem, F Calamante… – Neuroimage, 2007 – Elsevier