The thalamus is deep in the center of the brain. It controls important functions, including sensation, memory, and balance. A thalamic stroke occurs when there is a disruption in blood flow to the thalamus.
A thalamic stroke is a type of lacunar stroke. A lacunar stroke causes a small hole or space in the brain due to damaged nerve cells. These strokes can cause significant physical and cognitive disabilities.
Thalamic strokes can be ischemic or hemorrhagic:
- Ischemic strokes happen when small blood vessels become blocked.
- Hemorrhagic strokes occur when there is bleeding in part of the brain, sometimes due to a burst blood vessel.
This article examines the role of the thalamus, causes and risk factors of thalamic stroke, symptoms, secondary effects, treatment, and recovery. It also discusses diagnosis, complications, and possible outlook.
The thalamus is about the size of a walnut and sits deep in the center of the brain. It has two small halves and serves several roles.
All the body’s senses,
Additionally, the thalamus helps regulate:
- pain response
A thalamic stroke occurs when a small blood vessel serving the thalamus becomes blocked. A blood clot or atherosclerotic plaque may cause the blockage. Tissue begins to die, which may lead to long-term brain damage, disability, or death.
- high blood pressure
- diet (limiting foods high in saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol)
- physical inactivity
- high blood cholesterol
- carotid artery disease
- peripheral artery disease
- atrial fibrillation
- other heart disease types, such as coronary artery disease
- sickle cell disease
- Age: Stroke is more common as people age, but younger people can also have strokes.
- Family history: The risk of stroke increases if a family member has experienced a stroke.
- Gender: Females have more strokes and die from strokes more often than males. An explanation is that females tend to live longer than males and have strokes at an older age.
- Prior stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or heart attack: A TIA is a brief episode of neurological symptoms occurring due to obstructed blood flow in a region of the brain.
According to the
Scientists do not know the exact reason why Black people have an increased risk of stroke, but they believe certain variables, such as genetic and environmental factors as well as intensive daily stressors like racism, are contributors.
Depending on the part of the thalamus affected, a thalamic stroke may cause various
- absent or abnormal sensation on one side of the face, arm, and leg
- sensory changes involving:
- mild or moderate weakness on one side of the body
Following a thalamic stroke, people may experience the following secondary effects:
Speech and language difficulties
The thalamus is involved in
Changes in behavior and mood
Since the thalamus helps regulate mood and motivation, behavioral and mood changes are common following a thalamic stroke.
Increased pain sensitivity
Some people may develop central pain syndrome, a rare condition, following a thalamic stroke. This causes increased pain sensitivity, usually in the arms, legs, and face. It is also called Dejerine-Roussy syndrome or thalamic pain syndrome.
If a blood clot causes a stroke, doctors might recommend blood thinners to dissolve the clot. Doctors may give tissue plasminogen activator (TPA) within the first
In the hospital, doctors focus on reducing damage from the stroke. They aim to reduce the risk factors for a secondary stroke by stabilizing a person’s blood pressure and blood glucose levels.
Recovery time will vary depending on how much damage occurred in the brain.
If doctors advise staying in the hospital, therapies like physical therapy or speech therapy may begin immediately. If they recommend recovering at home, a person can attend outpatient therapies.
Rehabilitation is a vital part of the recovery process. The majority of recovery occurs during the first
Learn about the subacute phase of stroke here.
Recovery from a stroke varies by how much of the brain was affected and how soon after onset treatment began. It can take
Small vessel disease causes lacunar strokes, and having multiple lacunar strokes can contribute to vascular dementia. Vascular dementia may develop when strokes affect several brain areas.
The main effect of thalamic stroke is diminished sensation. This may affect how a person uses their body or objects. A decrease in sensation can also lead to injuries and unawareness of pain.
Recurrent strokes can cause weakness or immobility, which can lead to
According to a
An older study published in
The thalamus is a walnut-sized part of the brain that lies above the hypothalamus, deep in the brain. A stroke in the thalamus is a type of lacunar stroke. It occurs when there is an obstruction in the tiny blood vessels of the thalamus.
The thalamus regulates several functions, including sensation, language, speech, mood, and behavior. After a stroke, there may be short or long-term effects on sensation, language, mood, or motor function.
A doctor may prescribe several types of therapy after a stroke, such as speech and physical therapy. Many people recover well, while some experience long-term disabilities.