Text Messages May Be A Vital Diagnostic Tool For Stroke Victims

Megan Charles

Detroit, MI – Texting may be good for your health. Omran Kaskar, MD, a neurologist at Henry Ford Hospital and lead research author, believes under certain circumstances incoherent text messages, or dystextia, may be the only symptom apparent when diagnosing stroke-related aphasia.

Aphasia is a partial or complete disturbance in formulation and comprehension of language. According to the National Stroke Association, stoke is the leading cause of this brain-damage related condition.

There are four primary types of aphasia: non-fluent, fluent, global, and anomic. Each identify the symptomatic limitations of aphasia sufferers.

Aphasia may effect one's ability to speak, articulate, comprehend spoken language, read, write, and recognize and calculate numbers.

A stroke can potentially damage the frontal and parietal lobes of the brain associated with speech. Approximately one million Americans suffer from aphasia, but no two are exactly alike as the degree of symptoms can vary by severity.

An inability or difficulty relaying coherent text messages, termed dystextia, even in patients with proper verbal cognition, may represent a new tool for diagnosing symptoms of a stroke.

Kaskar's study focused on a 40-year-old man who had visited Detroit on business and presented with signs of dystextia.

When asked to type a simple text message, the communication was distorted and illogical, and not the result of autocorrect errors. The patient failed to recognize anything immediately wrong with the garbled, incomprehensible messages. However he had passed all other routine exams which evaluated abilities such as fluency of speech, comprehension, writing, and reading.

Aside from the appearance of negligible facial asymmetry, an observable symptom called facial droop, and the dystextia, the man had no other obvious indicators of a stroke. Facial droop is caused by damage or malfunction of the nerves linked to facial muscles.

The doctors treating him were able to determine the patient had suffered an acute ischemic stroke. This type of stroke is caused by a clot or blockage inhibiting the blood flow to part of the brain. Typically an acute ischemic stroke renders the victim with some type of physical impairment and can be especially fatal. The doctors found the text messaging diagnostic tool particularly helpful in this case.

With approximately 75 billion texts generated monthly, this particular piece of technology can be essential in determining otherwise undetectable symptoms of neurological impairments. Additionally the technology is typically time-stamped, which means a person's texting habits can be traced back to diagnose the initial onset.

Kaskar's report will be presented March 19th during the annual scientific meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in San Diego, California.

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