The blood vessels that reach the cerebellum are called the superior cerebellar artery, the anterior inferior cerebellar artery, and the posterior inferior cerebellar artery. A blood clot, bleeding, or trauma to any of these blood vessels can cause a cerebellar stroke. Of all brain strokes, cerebellar strokes account for 1%-4%.
Symptoms of cerebellar stroke
Symptoms from a cerebellar stroke happen suddenly. They can be mistaken for other conditions because they appear nonspecific. In many cases, these symptoms are ignored.
Common symptoms of a cerebral stroke include:
More visible symptoms of a cerebellar stroke may include:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Uncontrollable eye movement
- Abnormal reflexes
- Difficulty speaking
Potential complications of a cerebellar stroke
A cerebellar stroke can cause problems with movement, vision, speaking, thinking, and behavior. Some people have trouble eating, swallowing, and doing self-care activities. Some people can experience long-term deficits.
Complications may include:
- Jerking movements
- Double vision
- Coordination problems, typically on one side of the body
A cerebellar stroke is life-threatening. If you have symptoms of a cerebellar stroke, even if they’re vague, you need to seek medical care and treatment as soon as possible. If a cerebellar stroke is not fatal, it can still lead to significant disability.
Causes of cerebellar stroke
A cerebellar stroke can be the result of head trauma or hemorrhage that causes blood to pool in a portion of your brain. A brain hemorrhage can cause pressure to build in your brain and interrupt regular blood flow. Risk factors of cerebellar stroke include:
The treatment of cerebellar stroke will depend on factors such as:
- Severity of the stroke
- Type of stroke: ischemic or hemorrhagic
- When symptoms started
An ischemic stroke may be treated with tissue plasminogen activators (tPA) to dissolve the blood clot or blood thinning medications. Surgery may also be performed to remove a blood clot and restore blood flow to that area of the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke requires careful management of bleeding and swelling to prevent hydrocephalus. Treatment can include:
- Stopping blood–thinning medications
- Medications to control blood pressure
- Surgery to block off an aneurysm from the blood vessels in the brain or to seal it
Some therapies include:
- Speech therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Physical therapy
Cerebellar stroke recovery
How much recovery cerebellar stroke survivors will achieve is uncertain. However, the brain is capable of amazing things. When the cerebellum is damaged due to stroke, recovery is possible through neuroplasticity. This rewiring of connections can be maximized through consistent practice of rehab exercises and a lifelong pursuit of recovery. Cerebellar stroke recovery is a lifetime process and there will be highs and lows along the journey. The most important recovery for survivors is to continue creating meaningful goals and taking small steps toward improvement. We hope this article has helped explain cerebellar stroke and how survivors can pursue recovery one day at a time.