The Way You Text Could Indicate You've Had a Stroke


2013-03-14 16:56

Physicians at the Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit have recently discovered that having difficulty with or an inability to text legibly - referred to as dystexia - could be a sign that you’ve had a stroke and that this could prove to be a valuable diagnostic tool in identifying patients at risk of having a future fatal stroke.

According to a news release from Henry Ford Hospital, this discovery was the result of a study of a male patient who while on a business trip sent his wife a rather cryptic text message that read, “Oh baby your;” and was followed by “I am happy.” Two minutes later: "I am out of it, just woke up, can't make sense, I can't even type, call if ur awake, love you," leaving his wife confused and worried about his health.

A visit to the hospital the next day revealed no signs of visible neurological problems with the exception of a slight weakness on the right side of his face. The patient’s ability to communicate verbally was unremarkable as well.

However, when asked to enter a text message on his physicians smartphone, the patient entered a confusing “Tjhe Doctor nddds a new bb.” When it should have read, “the doctor needs a new blackberry.” More significant, however, was the fact that the patient in re-reading his text could not recognize any errors in the text message.

The patient was then diagnosed as having suffered an acute ischemic stroke―a potentially dangerous medical condition when a clot or other blockage of some type cuts off the supply of blood to a part of the brain.

Neurologist Omran Kaskar, M.D., of the Henry Ford Hospital explains that this type of dystexia could be the sole symptom of a partial inability to communicate as seen in the patient, that falls under the diagnosis of stroke-related aphasia.

According to the National Stroke Association, 1 in 4 stroke survivors experience some form of language impairment after a stroke where speech is primarily controlled by the Broca’s and Wernicke’s regions of the brain. In addition, strokes that damage the frontal and parietal lobes in the right hemisphere of the brain can also cause a person to have difficulty expressing and processing language.

“Text messaging is a common form of communication with more than 75 billion texts sent each month,” says Dr. Kaskar. “Besides the time-honored tests we use to determine aphasia in diagnosing stroke, checking for dystexia may well become a vital tool in making such a determination.”

Dr. Kaskar also adds that one of the pluses of potentially identifying an otherwise silent stoke via dystexia is the factor of time and initiating acute intervention.

“Because text messages are always time-stamped when they’re sent they may also help establish when the stroke symptoms were at least present or even when they began,” says Dr. Kaskar.

The news release states that a report about the dystexia association with ischemic stroke will be presented on March 19th during the annual scientific meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in San Diego.

Image Source: Courtesy of Wikipedia

Reference: Henry Ford Hospital news release