Doctors can pinpoint the type of stroke a person had based on the distinctive presentation of symptoms. For example, a cerebral venous thrombosis can start with a severe headache. A stroke that causes drooping of the eyelid is affecting the cranial nerves. A lacunar stroke, or LACI, interferes with deeper brain structures and leads to different symptoms.
What is a Stroke?
The brain is responsible for most actions in the body. It is the organ that allows people to speak, think, feel emotion and evolve. Different areas regulate different functions. When the heart beats, it is due to a signal coming from the medulla oblongata. When the arm reaches up to catch a ball, it does so at the command of the motor cortex in the frontal lobe.
A stroke happens when the blood supply is cut off from part of the brain due to a clot or leak in an artery. Once this occurs, brain cells begin to die within just a few minutes. Doctors diagnosed the type of stroke an individual has based on the area of the brain that shows damage. For example, a person who suddenly loses vision has damage to the occipital lobe of the brain.
What is a Lacunar Stroke?
A lacunar infarct means occlusion to one of the penetrating arteries that take blood deep into the organ. Approximately 25 percent of all strokes that occur due to artery occlusion are this form. When a deep penetrating artery becomes blocked, it cuts the blood supply off to the thalamus, pons area and internal capsule. Different categories of symptoms tell doctors a person has suffered from an infarction deep in the brain.
Pure Motor Stroke – accounts for 50 percent of all lacunar events. This stroke damages fibers that connect the brain to other parts of the nervous system. Imagine a puppet with strings leading to a wooden arm. If the puppet master were to cut one of these strings, the result would be similar to a pure motor stroke. Generally, the body is unable to move on one side, but there are no visual or verbal problems.
Pure Sensory Stroke – A pure sensory stroke has the opposite effect. This blockage leads to the lack of sensation in different areas of the body. For example, it may mean the inability to feel an arm, detect sensation on the face or even cause incontinence.
Sensorimotor Stroke – This indicates a stroke affecting the thalamus and areas adjacent to it. It combines both sensory and motor symptoms. The person might lose movement and feeling on the left side of the body, for instances.
Other Types of Lacunar Strokes
Not all lacunar infarctions are as clear cut as loss of muscle movement or sensation. An ataxic hemiparesis stroke results in weakness only to one side of the body. Dysarthria clumsy-hand stroke means the inability to speak and difficulty controlling one hand.
A stroke of any kind is a serious medical emergency, but the good news is they are more treatable today than they were even ten years ago. A combination of medication and physical therapy can retrain the body to compensate for dead areas even in the deep structures damaged by a lacunar stroke.