Incoherent text messages could signify a stroke
15th March 2013
mobile phoneU.S. Doctors claim that asking patients to type out a simple text message may prove vital in helping to diagnose a stroke, which can sometimes be difficult to do. Even if possible stroke victims are not showing typical signs of actually having a stroke – such as speech impairment – if the person has difficulty constructing a  basic text message or types incoherently with jargon, this may still help to raise the alarm. The claims were made after researchers at Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, U.S., reported the case of a 40-year-old man who they believe to be having a stroke and showed clear signs of ‘dystextia’ - incoherent text messaging. This particular patient was assessed for the common symptoms of a stroke. These include: . Facial ‘drooping’ on one side. . Being physically unable to smile or the mouth and an eye may have drooped. . Weakness in one or both arms – usually the person is unable to lift the affected arm(s). . Speech may be slurred, or there may be a complete inability to talk at all. Hospital staff saw no problems at a routine bedside test and the man was still fully able to speak, write and read. His comprehension and other factors were also found to be at a normal level. Despite this, the man was unable to correctly text a full sentence when requested, in addition to not be able to understand the mistakes he had made in his text messages.  Doctors asked the man to type the message: ‘The doctor needs a new Blackberry’ and instead, he texted: ‘The Doctor nddds a new bb’, and believed he had typed it out correctly when asked. The patient featured in the Henry Ford report had demonstrated similar problems prior to even going to the hospital. His wife commented that texts she received were ‘disjointed, non-fluent, and incomprehensible.’ They had said: ‘Oh baby your;’ followed by: ‘I am happy.’ After two minutes he again text his wife, this time saying: ‘I am out of it, just woke up, can't make sense, I can't even type, call if ur awake, love you.’ Therefore, after the text message testing, it quickly became apparently his problems were having difficulty registering language in text format. The doctors also found that he only had slight facial asymmetry and no other visible neurological problems. However, the doctors were successfully able to diagnose the man as having suffered an acute ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke occurs after the blood supply to the brain has been decreased or cuts off due to a number of reasons such as embolism, thrombosis, systemic hypoperfusion and venous thrombosis. The victim can be left paralysed, with speech problems and sometimes the stroke can be more fatal. In the future, requiring patients to undergo text message testing could be a key role in diagnosing a stroke. Dr Omran Kaskar, a neurologist at Henry Ford Hospital and lead author of the research, comments: “Text messaging is a common form of communication with more than 75 billion texts sent each month. Besides the time-honoured tests we use to determine aphasia in diagnosing stroke, checking for dystextia may well become a vital tool in making such a determination. 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.”