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Incoherent Texts May be a Symptom of Stroke, Study Finds

Update Date: Mar 14, 2013 02:56 PM EDT

A research study following the symptoms of one man concluded that incoherent texts, or garble, could be the only signifying factor that one is experiencing a stroke. The head author of the study, a neurologist at the Henry Ford Hospital, Omran Kaskar MD, observed the 40 year-old man's symptoms during his stay at the hospital. Kaskar found that dystextia, the inability to write coherent text messages and see them as garble can mean that the patient is suffering from stroke related aphasia, which is the inability to form or understand language.

The patient was observed for the regular and common symptoms of a stroke. He presented no problems during the routine bedside test that analyzed his ability to understand language. He was able to speak, write and read fluently. His comprehension and other factors were also deemed normal. However, he could not text a full sentence when asked to. In addition, doctors noticed that he also could not see the mistakes in his text messages, indicating that he only had difficulty comprehending language in text form. Other than this symptom, the doctors noted that he had a small case of facial asymmetry.

The patient was asked to text: "The doctor needs a new Blackberry," and instead, he texted: "The Doctor nddds a new bb." When he was asked if the sentence was written correctly, he said yes and did not see that the sentence was garble. The doctors concluded that he might have suffered from an acute ischemic stroke, which is when the brain does not get blood due to a blood clot or blockage. This study suggests that testing for dystextia in patients might be beneficial. Not only can it be a sign that the patient suffered a stroke, it can also pinpoint the exact times.

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

The findings will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology in San Diego, CA.

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