What Is A Thalamic Stroke?
A thalamic stroke is so named because it occurs in the lower area of the brain, known as the thalamus. The thalamus serves as a sort of relay and coordination center in the brain, so any damage to it can cause a variety of symptoms and problems. There is actually a thalamus on each side of the brain, which is why a stroke very often affects only one side of the body.
A stroke is said to occur when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly interrupted. Unless the flow of blood can be quickly restored, brain cells begin to die, and various functions the brain controls begin to deteriorate. This is why it is so important that a stroke, particularly a thalamic stroke, be treated as quickly as possible. Quite literally, every minute counts. The blood supply to the brain can be interrupted in several ways, such as a blocked artery, due to the presence of plaque, or a burst artery caused by high blood pressure. The formation of a blood clot can also cause a stroke.
Right Side Or Left Side Makes A Difference - If one suffers a thalamic stroke on the right side of the brain, it will be the left side of the body that is affected. The right side of the brain also controls to some degree our thinking and reasoning process, especially logical thought. Put in simple terms, a person who has suffered a thalamic stoke on the right side of their brain may be able to paint a beautiful picture, but have difficulty in putting two and two together to make four.
If one has a thalamic stroke on the left side of the brain, it is the right side of the body that may experience some impairment or paralysis. Speech may be affected also, as our ability to speak, communicate, and express languages is controlled in this part of the brain. The fact that the thalamus is directly connected to the cerebral cortex is the reason why muscles in the face, legs, or arms are often affected.
Severity Of Symptoms - Symptoms of a thalamic stroke usually come about suddenly, though in some cases they can be slower to develop, but this is rather rare. The severity of the symptoms is usually directly proportional to both the severity of the stroke itself, as well as the time elapsed before treatment is given. As we have seen above, the symptoms experienced are also a function of which side of the brain has been affected. A stroke affecting both sides of the brain is rare, but would apt to be lethal, as the entire brain would likely be affected.
Initial Stroke Symptoms - The usual symptoms when a stroke first occurs include, in various degrees, numbness or tingling feelings in the extremities, facial paralysis, difficulty speaking, and often confusion. Some stroke sufferers lose consciousness, while others simply become sleepy or listless. Headaches often occur in conjunction with a stroke, but pain in other areas is usually not experienced.
Recovery Is Often Difficult - Those who have suffered a stroke often face a long period of therapy and recovery. Some recover completely in a short period of time, while others may never recover completely, and always will experience lameness, weakness, or paralysis in certain muscles, often facial muscles or arm muscles. It is not altogether uncommon for stroke patients to have a tendency to give up, recognizing they no longer have the full control over their lives they once had. In this regard, having a support network of family, friends, or associating with other stroke patients can be of extreme importance.