Brain Stem Stroke Recovery

Brain stem stroke refers to a stroke that originates in the brain stem, which is the lowest part of the brain. This type of stroke is more serious than other types of strokes because the brain stem is a source for many life functions, such as breathing, speech, swallowing, heart rate, eye movement, blood pressure and body movement.

The most common cause is blockage of an artery which can be due to hardening of arteries leading to the brain, narrowing of the small arteries within the brain and embolism or presence of blood clots to the brain from the heart. Rupture of an artery within the brain can also lead to stroke.
Injury to the brain stem can also lead to brain stem stroke if there is an interruption of blood supply to the brain. Other cases that can interrupt the blood and oxygen supply to the brain include presence of tumor and vasculitis, where the blood vessels become inflamed. Factors that can increase the incidence of stroke include: high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, heart diseases, high cholesterol levels, alcohol intake, family history of stroke, sedentary lifestyle and increasing age.

The symptoms differ from the other types of strokes because the symptoms greatly vary to the area that is affected. In some cases, it may lead to paralysis of one or both sides of the body.

If the left side of the brain is affected, it is the right side that becomes paralyzed and vice versa, which complicates the brain stem stroke recovery.

Since it is the brain stem that controls breathing, then you may notice a change in breathing. In severe cases, coma can occur especially if the brain stem is compressed due to swelling.

Other symptoms include:

  • ataxia - difficulty in movement
  • dysphasia - difficulty speaking 
  • dysphagia - difficulty swallowing
  • nystagmus - uncontrolled eye movements
If the artery is blocked by plaque or fatty deposits, a surgical procedure known as endarterectomy is performed to remove that plaque that is accumulated in the arteries.

Another surgical method called angioplasty uses coils, stents or balloons to treat the problem; which is more common than other surgical methods because of its safety, effectiveness and higher success rate.

There are a lot of steps that you can take for brain stroke recovery. This includes having regular medical check ups, controlling blood pressure, quitting smoking, eating healthy foods and avoiding excess fat and sodium in the diet. Also limiting alcohol intake, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, reducing stress and treating underlying conditions especially diabetes. 


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