Disjointed Texts Could Be An Early Warning Sign For Stroke
March 14, 2013

Disjointed Texts Could Be An Early Warning Sign For Stroke

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

When a person is experiencing a stroke, there are three common symptoms to look for. The National Stroke Association has even listed these symptoms as an acronym: FAST, or Face, Arms, Speech and Time.

If one side of the person´s face droops, if the person is unable to lift both arms to the same height, or if the person cannot repeat a simple phrase clearly, help should be called immediately.

New research by the doctors at the Henry Ford Health System now suggests that garbled text messages should be added to the list of stroke symptoms.

The new study focused on one 40-year-old patient who was visiting the Detroit area on business. While there, he began to exhibit signs of “dystextia,” a newly coined phrase for sending out confusing texts. These texts are sometimes blamed on the phone´s autocorrect feature or a simple slip of the fingers. In cases of dystextia, however, the sender not only intends to send the texts as they appear, they´re also unable to recognize any misspellings or errors. The unnamed 40-year-old man saw nothing wrong with the garbled texts he was sending.

Dr. Omran Kaskar, a neurologist at the Henry Ford Hospital and lead author of the new study suggests signs of dystextia may be the only visible symptom in people who are experiencing an acute stroke.

While the 40-year-old man was visiting Detroit on business, he kept in contact with his wife through text messages. One night, his wife began receiving text messages that she described as “disjointed, non-fluent, and incomprehensible.”

“Oh baby your;” read one text, according to a statement from the hospital.

It was followed with “I am happy.” Then, two minutes later, the unnamed man typed:

“I am out of it, just woke up, can´t make sense, I can´t even type, call if ur awake, love you.”

The next day, the man admitted himself to the hospital. The doctors at Henry Ford Hospital ran a set of neurological tests on the man, but found no problems excepting for a slight weakness on the right side of his face. The man had no problem speaking to the doctors and exhibited no other signs of a stroke. The doctors then handed the man a smartphone and asked him to type the phrase “the doctor needs a new blackberry.”

The man tapped out “Tjhe Doctor nddds a new bb.” The doctors asked him if his text message looked correct. He replied that it did and could not see any of the errors. The doctors later determined the man had suffered an acute ischemic stroke and concluded dystextia could be a reliable way to identify signs of a stroke.

“Text messaging is a common form of communication with more than 75 billion texts sent each month,” said Dr. Kaskar in the hospital´s statement.

“Besides the time-honored tests we use to determine aphasia in diagnosing stroke, checking for dystextia may well become a vital tool in making such a determination.”

Dr. Kaskar also said the digital nature of the texts could be of importance, making them easier to trace and record.

“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,” said Dr. Kaskar.