If you receive a garbled text message from a loved one whose grammar is usually correct, consider the possibility that it could be a sign that they may have suffered a stroke, according to a new report that was presented Wednesday at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) in San Diego.
As strange as that may seem, there have been reported cases where gibberish text was the stroke victim's only visible symptom, which subsequently led to a diagnosis of stroke-related aphasia. Victims of stroke-related aphasia may also have problems with common cognitive skills, such as reading and writing, as well as work processing.
Dr. Omran Kaskar, a neurologist at Henry Ford Hospital and lead author of the new report on what is called "dystextia", presented his findings yesterday at the AAN annual meeting.
Dr. Kaskar talked about the first reported case of dystexia involving a 25-year-old pregnant woman in Boston who was diagnosed with a stroke after sending a couple of unintelligible texts to her husband.
In another case, Kaskar read excerpts from a series of strange text messages a woman received late at night from her 40-year-old husband who was out-of-town on a business trip: "Oh baby your;" And then: "I am happy." Two minutes later: "I am out of it, just woke up, can't make sense, I can't even type, call if ur awake, love you."
When her husband went to the hospital the next day, doctors noted some slight weakness on the right side of his face, but they could not detect any evidence of neurological problems. However, that changed when they gave him a smartphone and asked him to type: "the doctor needs a new blackberry."
In response, the man typed: "Tjhe Doctor nddds a new bb." When asked if he made any typing errors in his message, the man said no. While it’s common to make typos when texting, not recognizing the errors is what distinguishes dystextia patients from those who notice their written mistakes.
Accordingly, doctors were able to determine from the man’s gibberish text that he had suffered an acute ischemic stroke, meaning there was a clot blocking blood supply to a portion of his brain.
Nearly 130,000 Americans are killed by strokes each year, making strokes one of the leading causes of death in the U.S., based on the latest date from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Strokes also occur in younger adults, according to a study published last October, which found that more adults who are 55 and younger are having strokes – up to 18.6 percent more in 2005. Other conditions, such as diabetes, obesity and high cholesterol, also increase the risk of stroke.
Therefore, Kaskar urged neurologists to look at gibberish texts as a useful new tool in diagnosing stroke, especially since most have time-stamps that can tell doctors when the symptoms first started.