The basal ganglia tissue is composed of the caudate nucleus, putamen, and globus pallidus. This area of the brain has a blood supply that can easily be blocked or suffer damage. If blood supply to the any part of the brain is interrupted, the patient suffers from a stroke. A stroke in the basal ganglia leads to very specific symptoms. By identifying these symptoms, physicians can localize the stroke and provide the proper treatment.
Changes in Movement
Strokes that damage the basal ganglia can cause a range of abnormalities in body movement, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center. Stiff, rigid muscles, loss of movement, and tremors are all possible symptoms of a stroke in the basal ganglia. The basal ganglia control coordination of movement, and when these nerve centers become damaged, the body loses this ability. This disorder is called ataxia.
Patients may also complain of a weakness in the muscles needed for swallowing and difficulty in smiling and talking. This is due to weakness in the muscles of the face, mouth, and throat. The nerves in the basal ganglia innervate these muscles. If the basal ganglia become damaged by a stroke, then these muscles can weaken and function incorrectly.
Patients who have experienced a stroke affecting the basal ganglia will experience a decrease in cognitive function, according to a 2007 article in the "Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology." Some of the functions affected by a stroke in the basal ganglia include decision-making ability, memory, language, and attention. These symptoms improve over time, but rarely return to normal levels.
Headache, Nausea, Vomiting, and Loss of Consciousness
A hemorrhagic stroke in the basal ganglia will result in headache, nausea and vomiting, states MedLink Neurology. Bleeding in the caudate nucleus can spread to other areas of the brain. The blood irritates the nerves and tissues of the brain and can lead to pain and vomiting. Furthermore, the increased pressure caused by the excess blood can lead to parts of the brain shutting down. Once the brain begins to shut down, the patient can lose consciousness and potentially enter a coma. Emergency evacuation of the excess blood and repair of the damaged blood vessels is the prescribed treatment in these cases.
A basal ganglia stroke can lead to personality changes, according to the Ohio State University Medical Center. Commonly patients will exhibit a change in judgment. They may appear confused and have a difficult time understanding what is happening around them. Patients can easily become frustrated and anxious. Patients can also become unmotivated and exhibit a lack of interest in activities that were once important to them. Strokes in the basal ganglia can cause patients to have inappropriate emotional responses. Patients may cry or laugh for no apparent reason, or suffer from depression and anger.