It seems like cerebellar stroke recovery doesn’t get much online coverage, making it rather mysterious.
Why is that?
In this article, you’ll learn why cerebellar stroke recovery isn’t really talked about and why we’re eager to change that.
Then we’ll share 5 treatment options to boost your recovery from cerebellar stroke.
Let’s get started.
The Mystery of Cerebellar Stroke Recovery
Cerebellar strokes are slipping under the radar because they only account for about 2% of all strokes.
That means there are less recoveries to study and therefore less to talk about (which is no excuse, but good to know).
However, the part that makes cerebellar stroke incredibly hard to understand is that they’re often misdiagnosed.
Poor Cerebellar Stroke Recoveries from Poor Diagnosis?
Most strokes are quickly diagnosed using the F.A.S.T. test, which checks for facial drooping, weakness in the arm, and slurred speech.
While 90% of people with stroke will exhibit these symptoms, cerebellar strokes might exude none.
From what we have heard, most people suffering from cerebellar stroke have intense vertigo and headaches, among other seemingly-“benign” symptoms.
In fact, about 1-3% of people admitted to the emergency room for extreme vertigo are actually having cerebellar strokes!
Because of the atypical symptoms, it can take doctors a long time, and a few rounds of tests later, to finally realize that someone’s having a cerebellar stroke.
Since time is brain when it comes to stroke, this often results in high disability and death rates among people with cerebellar stroke.
This news is very scary and very concerning, and we hope you’ll join us as we spread awareness for proper cerebellar stroke diagnosis!
If you would like to help, please share this article to educate others.
Recovering from Cerebellar Stroke
Now that you know why there’s a shortage of information on cerebellar strokes, let’s fill in the gap!
Next, we’ll talk about the cerebellum and the potential side effects of cerebellar stroke.
Then we’ll discuss ways to treat each side effect.
Side Effects of Cerebellar Stroke
Your cerebellum controls your movement, balance, speech muscles, eye muscles, and sensation.
Therefore, common side effects from cerebellar stroke are:
- Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body
- Impaired balance (often extreme)
- Vision problems
- Speech problems (aphasia)
- Sensory issues
You may experience other side effects, but these are the most common ones.
Let’s look into the treatment options.
1a. Treating Weakness
The best way to treat movement problems after stroke is with repetitive practice.
Meaning, if you want to get better at moving your right side, for example, then you need to practice moving your right side.
When you practice something, you activate neuroplasticity, the mechanism your brain uses to rewire itself.
For example, each time you repeat a leg exercise, you strengthen the neural connections in your brain responsible for moving your leg.
The more you strengthen these neural connections through repetitive practice, the smoother your leg coordination will become.
1b. Treating Paralysis
But what if you don’t have enough movement to start? How can you engage neuroplasticity when you can’t even move half of your body?
Don’t worry. There’s still hope!
In order to recover from paralysis, you need to begin with passive exercise.
During passive exercise, you move your paralyzed muscles with either the help of your non-affected side or a therapist/caregiver.
Although you aren’t “doing the movement yourself,” this still helps activate neuroplasticity and rewire your brain.
As long as the intention to move your affected muscles is there, then you can work on relinking mind to muscle through neuroplasticity.
For more information, see The Ultimate Guide to Stroke Paralysis Recovery.
2. Treating Poor Balance
The balance issues that cerebellar stroke survivors face are often severe. However, you can overcome hard challenges with hard work.
The best way to treat balance issues is with physical therapy (i.e. rehab exercise) and plenty of repetition.
Also, be sure to focus on more than just your legs.
Balance requires effort from your full-body, so make sure to exercise your legs, feet, and core! All these muscles work together to maintain coordination.
3. Treating Vision Problems
Good news! Repetitive practice is not limited to movement improvement.
You can use practice to get better at just about everything, including your vision.
Since your eyes are controlled by 6 different muscles, it’s possible to improve your vision by retraining those eye muscles.
Also, sometimes the vision center of the brain is damaged by stroke, and it’s possible to retrain your brain through vision therapy.
It can get tricky, but it’s worth a try, in our opinion.
For more information, see The Ultimate Guide to Treating Vision Problems After Stroke.
4. Treating Speech Problems
Sometimes cerebellar stroke affects your ability to understand speech or produce speech yourself.
This is a condition known as aphasia that can be treated with (…can you guess where we’re going to go with this?…) repetition!
You can practice various speech exercises to regain language skills after stroke.
We recommend starting by working with a speech-language pathologist.
Then, once you’ve maxed out your therapy sessions, try practicing with free language apps. (You can also use these apps in between therapy sessions!)
5. Treating Sensory Issues
These are sensation problems that can be fixed with sensory reeducation exercises.
These exercises help retrain your brain and nervous system how to feel again.
Again, the more you practice, the more your brain begins to rewire itself, and the more your sensation will improve.
Cerebellar Stroke Recovery
Overall, cerebellar stroke recovery is the least-studied type of stroke because it’s rare and difficult to diagnose.
Cerebellar stroke survivors are often left with physical disability, balance problems, vision impairments, and/or language difficulties.
Luckily, all of these side effects can be remedied with repetitive practice that helps rewire the brain.
If you are a cerebellar stroke survivor, hold faith that there’s hope for your recovery!
With hard work, you might even be able to achieve a full recovery.