Thalamic Stroke – What Is It and How Dangerous Is It?

A thalamic stroke is not something that many of us have even heard about, but most of us do know what a very dangerous thing a stroke can be. Simply put, a stroke is a sudden loss of brain function that occurs due to some disturbance of proper blood supply to the brain.Thalamus1

A stroke can be ischemic, which is caused by lack of blood flow to the brain due to a blockage, (arterial embolism or thrombosis; essential a blood clot) or it could be hemorrhagic, which is caused by bleeding into the brain due to a broken blood vessel.

A stroke can result in very significant physical and mental impairment and can cause permanent damage.

thalamic stroke refers to a stroke that affects the thalamus, which is the area of the brain responsible for relaying sensation, for motor signals and spatial sense to the cerebral cortex of the brain. This area also regulates waking and sleeping.

Since the thalamus is responsible for so many different functions, it becomes clear that a thalamic stroke can be a very dangerous event indeed.

So a thalamic stroke is one where the brain cells of the thalamus stops receiving oxygenated blood due to a clot or a hemorrhage, impairing function and perhaps causing permanent damage.

A thalamic stroke that occurs in the right hemisphere of the brain causes the left side of the body to be affected and the stroke that occurs in the left side of the brain affects the right side of the body. The symptoms indicating a thalamic stroke are:

  • Sometimes the sign of a person having a thalamic stroke could be in the form of hearing noises or feeling a certain amount of pressure in the ear opposite to the side where the stroke is occurring.
  • Pain in the corresponding side of the body (right side of the body if the stroke was in the left hemisphere and vice versa) is the most commonly noted symptom of thalamic stroke. It is a pain rather like a phantom limb pain according to some experts, because it is caused by the brain misinterpreting signals that it receives from the lesions caused by the stroke. This pain is best treated by using certain prescription pain relieving medications.
  • Headaches or migraine is another thalamic stroke symptom, for which similar prescription pain medication can be used.
  • Aphasia is another serious result of a thalamic stroke – which is a loss of ability to speak or interpret the written or spoken word due to the damage caused to the brain. The aphasia can get worse at certain times, such as when the stroke sufferer is experiencing a headache. This symptom of thalamic stroke can however get better over time although the progress may seem very slow.

Some stroke sufferers also experience symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, or nausea, sometimes severe or constant. So either directly or indirectly a thalamic stroke could result in a loss of appetite.

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