TIME TO DAZE YOU A BIT! STROKE EXPLAINED TO LAYMEN....
Spinothalamic tracts. Corticospinal tracts. Deccusation.
All medical terms a medical intern is likely to be bombarded with as his neurology teacher strives to explain why 'you lose functions and sensations in one side of your body while it is your cerebral hemisphere on the "contralateral" side that suffers damage'.
Or why the right side of the face of a stroke patient is paralysed while his left arm and left leg is paralysed.....if blood supply to his right cerebral hemisphere is cut off!
Now it matters little to the layman if such "cut-off" in blood supply is by a blood clot or due to a ruptured artery. The former is called thrombo-embolic stroke while the latter is referred to as hemorrhage stroke.
Thombotic.....if the clot develops de novo at the point of blockade....gradually reducing blood supply to the target organ....and ultimately blocking it off.....totally!
Embolic.....if a part of a clot is chipped of from elsewhere....and is carried along in the bloodstream till it reaches a point where the diameter of the blood vessel is too small to allow its further movement.
In both latter types, blockade may be partial thus allowing some sensation and motion as some blood trickles through.... ditto the hemorrhage variety.
Afterall, blood is the harbinger of oxygen and nutrients! Thus, the stroke patient suffers deprivation of oxygen and nutrients to the affected parts of his brain....leading to death of brain tissue in that part!
In case you are already suffering some dizziness from all that barrage of medical jargon, you need not worry. Those "tracts" simply refer to the sensory and motor nerve fibres as they climb and descend in your spinal cord....
Ah! Some respite at last! You must have heard the term Spinal Cord before.... And you are probably trying to see if there is any connection between the term "motor" and motor vehicles. Well, you are on the right tract. Motor means motion!
And as the word "tract" crops up again, you may need to know that its technical meaning as it relates to those Spinothalamic and Corticospinal tracts mentioned above is no different from the colloquial.....just that these are tracts for the flow of information.....and not rail tracts!
Such are the needless difficulties scientists encounter whenever we see the need to explain simple things to non-scientific minds....inadvertently confusing the listener further having to use more scientific language to explain some scientific phenomenon!
How I wish people would show more interest in science subjects and pay more attention to their science teachers.....
Decussation simply means Crossing....so, decussating fibres are those crossing to the other side of the body.....from left to right and vise versa.....explaining the disparities between the side of the face and the rest of the body that suffers a loss of function and sensations....consequent upon a stroke....
What may interest you....causes or disposing factors...
Obesity. Hypertension. Diabetes. Smoking. Stress. Temper. Alcoholism. Sedentary lifestyles. Careless nutrition. Neglect of health. Sickle cell disease. Heart valve disease. Congenital heart disease.
So, watch your weight. Visualize some of that excess fat going straight to your blood vessels to thicken, harden and block them!
Have regular BP checks. Sustained uncontrolled systemic hypertension hardens your arteries and reduces their flexibility!
Regular screening for diabetes.....the only way of knowing.....as merely tasting your urine is not enough. It is subjective and it is unscientific. Ants crawling around your urine and loving its taste? Beware!
Cessation of smoking. Your trachea and bronchi are not chimneys.....neither are your lungs kitchens!
Avoidance or limitation of stress. Some things are simply out of your direct control in this type of nation governed by robbers! So, why bother?
Control of temper. Don't be a slave to your temper!
Reduction of alcohol.....preferably total stoppage.....
Regular moderate exercise.....regular brisk walks should do!
Balanced diets. Watch the calories you imbibe.
Regular medical check-up. Twice a year? Thrice a year?
Pre-nuptial haemoglobin genotype determination...to avoid kids with sickle cell disease....and their tendency to strokes!
Closer attention to throat infection in infancy....as poorly treated throat infection may snowball into rheumatic heart disease and kidney disease in adulthood! Such damaged hearts are more likely to develop bacterial infections and clots which break off to cause strokes....
Avoidance of indiscriminate use of local herbs in pregnancy....and avoidance of traditional birth attendants!....for most in- born errors of fetal development are triggered off by herbs (or other drugs) used in the first three months of pregnant....the first trimester.....when organogenesis takes place.
A malformed heart.....a hole in the heart.....a deformed heart valve would more likely be amenable to infection, form clots, throw an embolus and cause a stroke....
Be guided by these notes....
.....wiser than "attracting" deformities and going on TV to appeal for medical alms!
Dr Tosin Akindele is a medical practitioner and public affairs analyst.