Brainstem stroke syndrome

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Brainstem stroke
SpecialtyNeurology Edit this on Wikidata

A brainstem stroke syndrome falls under the broader category of stroke syndromes, or specific symptoms caused by vascular injury to an area of brain (for example, the lacunar syndromes). As the brainstem contains numerous cranial nuclei and white matter tracts, a stroke in this area can have a number of unique symptoms depending on the particular blood vessel that was injured and the group of cranial nerves and tracts that are no longer perfused. Symptoms of a brainstem stroke frequently include sudden vertigo and ataxia, with or without weakness. Brainstem stroke can also cause diplopia, slurred speech and decreased level of consciousness. A more serious outcome is locked-in syndrome.

Classic Syndromes[edit]


A history of locked in syndromes.

Kate Allatt[edit]

Kate Allatt is a mother-of-three from Sheffield, South Yorkshire. She has successfully recovered from locked-in syndrome. Now she runs Fighting Strokes, and devotes her life to assisting those with locked-in syndrome.[1]

Jean-Dominique Bauby[edit]

Parisian journalist Jean-Dominique Bauby suffered a stroke in December 1995, and, when he awoke 20 days later, he found his body was almost completely paralyzed; he could control only his left eyelid. By blinking this eye, he slowly dictated one alphabetic character at a time and, in so doing, was able over a great deal of time to write his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly. Three days after it was published in March 1997, Bauby died of pneumonia.[2] The 2007 film The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a screen adaptation of Bauby's memoir. Jean-Dominique was instrumental in forming the Association du Locked-In Syndrome (ALIS) in France.[3]

Rabbi Ronnie Cahana[edit]

In the summer of 2011, Rabbi Ronnie Cahana, Rabbi Emeritus of Congregation Beth-El in Montreal, suffered a severe brainstem stroke that left him in a locked-in state, able to communicate only with his eyes. With the help of his family, he continued to write poems and sermons for his congregation, letter by letter, through blinking. He has since regained his ability to breathe by himself and speak with his mouth. He describes his experiences as a blessing and a spiritual revelation of body and mind.[4] His story was told in a Ted talk given by his daughter called: "My Father, Locked-in his Body but Soaring Free". He is the son of painter Alice Lok Cahana.

Tony Nicklinson[edit]

Tony Nicklinson, of Melksham, Wiltshire, England, was left paralysed after suffering a stroke in June 2005,[5] at age 51. In the years that followed, he started a legal battle for a right to assisted death. On 16 August 2012, his request was turned down by the High Court of Justice.[6] On learning the outcome of his appeal, he refused to eat, contracted pneumonia, deteriorated rapidly and died a week later on 22 August 2012, aged 58.[7]

Julia Tavalaro[edit]

In 1966, Julia Tavalaro, then aged 32, suffered two strokes and a brain hemorrhage and was sent to Goldwater Memorial Hospital on Roosevelt Island, New York. For six years, she was believed to be in a vegetative state. In 1972, a family member noticed her trying to smile after she heard a joke. After alerting doctors, a speech therapist, Arlene Kratt, discerned cognizance in her eye movements. Kratt and an occupational therapist, Joyce Sabari, were eventually able to convince doctors she was in a locked-in state. After learning to communicate with eye blinks in response to letters being pointed to on an alphabet board, she became a poet and author. Eventually, she gained the ability to move her head enough to touch a switch with her cheek, which operated a motorized wheelchair and a computer. She gained national attention in 1995 when the Richard E. Meyer of the Los Angeles Times published a cover story about Tavalaro. In 1997, Erika Duncan's profile of Julia and her co-author Richard Tayson, "Decades After Silence, a Voice Is Recognized," ran in the Long Island edition of The New York Times and in April 1997, "The Long Road Home" appeared in Newsday. Julia Tavalaro appears with Richard Tayson on Dateline NBC and Melissa Etheridge's Beyond Chance (Lifetime). Their book was published by Viking-Penguin in 1998 and was translated into German, where it was published as Bis auf den Grund des Ozeans by Verlag Herder. Tavalaro's story became a bestseller in Germany. She died in 2003 at the age of 68.[8][9]

See Also[edit]


  1. ^ Sloan, Jenna (11 September 2012). "I'm mad on Facebook, shopping, 50 Shades of Grey and I like vodka: Amazing spirit of 'locked-in' Christine Waddell". The Sun. Retrieved 11 September 2012.
  2. ^ "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on 2007-12-01. Retrieved 2007-11-29.
  3. ^ "Association du Locked In Syndrome" (in French). FR.
  4. ^ Rabbi Ronnie Cahana, Rabbi Ronnie Cahana's poetry and sermons
  5. ^ "Tony Nicklinson's legal fight for right to die". BBC News. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  6. ^ "Locked-in man devastated at ruling". 18 August 2012. Archived from the original on 19 August 2012. Retrieved 18 August 2012.
  7. ^ "Right-to-die man Tony Nicklinson dead after refusing food". BBC News. 22 August 2012. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  8. ^ The Unspeakable Odyssey of the Motionless Boy by Joshua Foer, Esquire Magazine, October 2, 2008.
  9. ^ "Julia Tavalaro, 68; Poet and Author Noted for Defying Severe Paralysis". Los Angeles Times. December 21, 2003. p. B16.

External links[edit]