Basal Ganglia Stroke: Causes, Treatment, Recovery

Basal ganglia, a cluster of neurons, constitutes a structure in the centre of the brain. It connects with the brainstem, thalamus, cerebral cortex and other brain parts. Basal ganglia control movements, response to a certain situation (tossing a ball) and planning actions.

sad freckled girl head leaning on the side of big copper bowl

Basal ganglia, a cluster of neurons, constitutes a structure in the center of the brain. It connects with the brainstem, thalamus, cerebral cortex, and other brain parts. Basal ganglia control movements, response to a certain situation (tossing a ball) and planning actions. Diseases such as basal ganglia stroke affecting Ganglia can lead to severe dysfunctions on habitual actions. Knowing its causes, prevention, treatment, and recovery will help you avoid the stroke.

What are the functions of Basal Ganglia?

  • Coordinate movements such as reaching for a pen.
  • Cause a fluid and smooth movement
  • Control eye movements, sensation, habitual learning and voluntary motor movements.
  • Inhibits some voluntary movements in social interaction.
  • Modulates and plans movement pathways.

What is Basal Ganglia Stroke?

Basal ganglia stroke refers to the inadequate blood supply or oxygen deprivation on the brain part. It constitutes two types:

  • Ischemic stroke – The most common stroke. It happens when a blood clot occurs in the vessel. 
  • Hemorrhagic stroke – The less common type. It occurs when the blood vessel bursts. Such stroke can cause brain pressure, swelling and permanent brain damage.  
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA) – Dubbed as a mini-stroke, TIA comprises a short-lived stroke and causes no permanent damage.

What Are The Causes?

Basal ganglia stroke happens when a brain artery ruptures and the blood leaks. A buildup of fatty deposits (plaque) in arteries can lead to such a stroke. Your health habits may contribute to the risk factors leading to the stroke. The following are the risk factors:

Lifestyle factors

  • Head trauma
  • Physical inactivity
  • Cigarette smoking
  • Overweightness
  • Binge or heavy drinking
  • Use illegal drugs 

Medical factors

  • Diabetes
  • Hypertension and blood pressure readings above 120/180 mm Hg.
  • History of stroke in the family such as transient ischemic attack and heart attack.
  • Exposure to second-hand smoke
  • Calcium Buildup
  • Stroke
  • Tumors
  • Drug overdose
  • Poisoning due to carbon monoxide
  • Above 55 age. The risk of stroke increases after this age.
  • Poisoning due to heavy metals such as copper and manganese.
  • Multiple sclerosis ( an autoimmune disease that can affect spinal and brain cord)
  • Use of hormone therapies such as estrogen and birth control pills.

Associated Brain Disorders Risk

The following are associated with basal ganglia stroke:

  • Muscle tone problem or dystonia
  • Parkinson disease
  • Wilson disease (too much copper in the blood that leads to symptoms such as vomiting and dementia)
  • Huntington disease or brain degenerative disease.
  • Nervous system disorder or mulitple system atrophy.

What Are The Symptoms?

Symptoms include:

  • Loss of balance and coordination.
  • Changes in personality such as depression, anger, confusion, disinterest, and frustration.
  • Changes in muscle coordination.
  • Altered consciousness, and vomiting.
  • Difficulty in speaking and swallowing.
  • Weakness or numbness in either side of the body or face.
  • Facial muscle weakness such as difficulty in swallowing and smiling.
  • Ataxia or loss of bodily movement control.
  • Loss of pain, touch, temperature sensations in all body parts.
  • Visual impairment

What Are The Treatments?

Medical cure

Your doctor may prescribe medicines that can decrease symptoms such as seizures, anxiety, and depression. Your doctor may recommend you with the following treatments:

  • Tissue plasminogen activator injection (TPA): An injection of TPA or a blood clot-busting drug can restore blood flow. Through intravenous injection is given 3 hours after the onset of symptoms.
  • Direct medications: Your doctor may directly treat your brain by inserting a thin and long tube or catheter in your arteries and use it to deliver TPA.
  • Clot removal with stent retriever: Doctors may maneuver a stent directly in your brain vessel and inject drugs in combo with intravenous TPA. The stent expands and removes the clot in the vessel.
  • Angioplasty with stents: The surgeon gets into your carotid arteries via your groin artery. Then, the surgeon uses a balloon to inflate inside the artery and deploys the stent to make the artery stay opened.
  • Use of antihemorrhagic drugs: Your doctors may prescribe medications such as anti-platelet drugs such as warfarin and Plavix to prevent blood clotting. They may give you drugs that can prevent seizures, blood pressure, and vasospasm.

Other surgical procedures

Your surgeon may perform these repair procedures: 

  • Stereotactic radiosurgery: Uses a beam of concentrated radiation to minimize invasive treatments.
  • Endovascular embolization: The surgeon directs a catheter into your artery via groin and into your brain by using tiny detachable coils.
  • Surgical clip: The surgeon tiny clips at the aneurysm base to halt blood flow.
  • Arteriovenous malformation or AVM removal: Your surgeon may cut an incision in your scalp and skull to access the tangled blood vessels. AVM removal is not recommended when the AVM is deep within your brain as this may cause further hemorrhage. 

Preventive Methods

Lifestyle changes

Lifestyle changes can reduce the risk of contracting basal ganglia stroke. Take note that not all cholesterols are bad and some cholesterol is actually good for you.

  • Lose weight by exercising such as walking, jogging and joining a fitness club or gym.
  • Drink in moderation by taking not more than one glass a day.
  • Avoid foods with high in bad cholesterol such as muffins, shrimp, full-fat cheese, pasta, processed vegetable oils, packaged foods, processed meats, mayonnaise, potato chips, and bacon.
  • Quit smoking 
  • Treat diabetes by monitoring your blood sugar, taking prescribed medicine, drinking recommended herbs, taking exercise and eating recommended food.

Recognizing Early Signs

Before it’s too late, watch out for early signs by recognizing the mnemonic below:

  • F – Dropping face when smiling
  • A – One arm is dripping down after lifting
  • S – Speech sounds odd or slurred
  • T – Time to call 911 if you see any of these signs.

How soon can one recover from basal ganglia stroke?

The length of recovery depends on the severity of the stroke, the speed of emergency treatment and the lifestyle changes. The more you detect early signs and subscribe to medication, the more likely you recover early. New advances in medicine, surgical procedures, and medical information technology could reduce recovery time even for severe cases of stroke.

The Bottom Line

Basal ganglia stroke is no big joke as it can be life-threatening or dysfunctioning. The early you detect or recognize the symptoms, the better the chances of recovery. The more healthy lifestyle you follow, the more you can avoid diabetes.

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