Basal Ganglia Stroke: What Is It?
The basal ganglia is a group of brain regions located at the base of your spinal cord. These areas are responsible for motor functions such as movement, muscle control, and language. They include the premotor cortex (which controls voluntary movements), the supplementary motor area (which controls involuntary movements) and the somatosensory association cortex (responsible for touch).
In most cases, these areas do not need to communicate with each other or the rest of the brain; they function independently. However, when one area fails to work properly, it may affect other parts of the body. For example, if part of the basal ganglia is damaged or destroyed completely, then this will cause problems with your ability to move your limbs and feel pain. You might lose some sensation in your arms and legs. Your muscles might become stiff and painful.
You could even experience shortness of breath or fainting spells.
There are two types of basal ganglia strokes: primary and secondary. Primary means that the area affected was already functioning normally before the stroke occurred. Secondary means that something happened after the stroke which caused damage to the area. There are many different causes of aphasia, but there is no known cure for it yet!
What Causes Aphasia?
Aphasia (the partial or complete loss of the ability to understand or express language) is caused by damage to the parts of the brain that are responsible for communication. The most common causes are:
Stroke: This can be a blockage (or clot), bleeding, or a lack of blood in the brain. These problems may lead to brain damage and aphasia.
Head trauma: An injury or accident may cause bleeding or bruising in the brain.
Brain tumor: A tumor may bleed or put too much pressure on the brain. This will damage surrounding tissue and lead to aphasia.
Alzheimer’s disease: This mental disorder causes memory loss and effects communication skills. Unfortunately, it gradually worsens over time.
Brain infection: Viruses or other types of infection can spread to the brain and cause bleeding or cysts. These may develop into tumors or lead to strokes.
Brain abscess: This is a pocket of pus that forms in the brain. It can be caused by an infection or trauma to the head.
Parkinson’s disease: This condition causes movement and muscle control problems.
There are several other medical conditions that can cause aphasia. If you have any of these, it is extremely important to inform your doctor about all of your symptoms. Not doing so could result in a misdiagnosis or delayed treatment. This can lead to even further health complications.
What Are The Symptoms Of Aphasia?
The symptoms of aphasia can vary depending on the area of the brain that has been damaged. The most common symptoms include:
Difficulty understanding spoken or written language: This includes trouble hearing or paying attention to sounds and words. It can also include understanding the meaning of sentences.
Speaking difficulties: Your language skills may be compromised. This could cause you to speak your own language poorly. It could also cause you to make up words or phrases and have trouble remembering others.
Music: Those with aphasia may lose their interest in music, singing, and even the ability to play an instrument properly.
Math: Difficulty with simple arithmetic is common. You may even lose your ability to tell the time.
Time: You may have trouble understanding time and dates.
Spatial relationships: You may have problems judging distance or spatial relationships. For example, you may not be able to judge when to stop a vehicle in time to avoid a collision.
Reading and writing: Reading and writing are difficult. You may lose your ability to do either of these things.
Short-term memory: This could get worse over time. Your ability to remember things you’ve just heard, seen, or done may begin to disappear.
Direction: Navigating around or knowing where you are is difficult. You may also have problems determining which way is north, south, east, or west.
Speaking clearly: Your speech may become slurred and unclear causing others to ask you to repeat yourself a lot.
How Is Aphasia Diagnosed?
It is important to be seen by a doctor if you experience any of the symptoms of aphasia. The earlier it is caught, the easier it is to treat. Your doctor will ask you questions about your medical history and perform a physical examination. They will rule out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms. After this process is complete, they may refer you for a brain scan. This can offer a visual representation of your brain. It can help the doctor see if there are any physical abnormalities. If you have dementia, they may perform a CT or CAT scan. These scans use X-rays to create a three-dimensional image of your brain. An MRI uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create cross-sectional images of your brain.
Tests such as an EEG or nerve conduction velocity test may also be used. These tests monitor the electrical activity in your brain which can help rule out other conditions. These conditions may include tumors, past trauma, or infections. They can also help determine the location of the damage in your brain.
How Is Aphasia Treated?
The treatment for aphasia varies depending on the cause and type of aphasia you experience. Treatments may include:
Medication: Antidepressants, anti-seizure drugs, and cholesterol lowering drugs may improve symptoms if there is evidence that these factors are contributing to your condition.
Diet: A healthy diet can help improve your overall health and reduce the chances of a stroke. This in turn may improve aphasia symptoms.
Psychological counseling: A speech-language pathologist can help you learn the best ways to cope with the changes that have occurred. Learning new skills and coping strategies can help you compensate for lost language skills.
Physical therapy: Exercises can help strengthen the parts of your brain that control language skills. These exercises can also improve your memory and attention span.
Speech therapy: Utilizing assisted technology may help you with common tasks such as writing or typing. Learning to adapt to a new writing style may also help. Speech-language pathology services can be provided if you experience difficulty speaking.
Stroke Support Group: Joining a stroke support group may help you interact with others who are experiencing similar issues.
Living With Aphasia
It is important to remember that everyone experiences aphasia differently. You may experience symptom variations, or even symptoms that are not included in this article. Your symptoms may also change over time. There are many things you can do to help reduce the impact of aphasia.
Advancements in technology may also help improve your quality of life. The future looks very bright for people living with aphasia and their loved ones. There is hope for continued improvements in treatment and lifestyle modifications. The Speech, Language and Hearing Association (SLHA) offers many resources that can help you learn more about living with aphasia.
Living with aphasia can sometimes be difficult. It is important to remember that you are not alone. There are many others who are in the same situation as you are. Developing a positive mindset and learning new skills can help you live the best life possible.
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
Patients with stroke confined to basal ganglia have diminished response to rehabilitation efforts by I Miyai, AD Blau, M Reding, BT Volpe – Neurology, 1997 – AAN Enterprises