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Medical Malpractice Involving Failure to Timely Diagnose Stroke Resulting In “Locked-In Syndrome”

According to the National Stroke Association, a stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off, and brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, functions controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost. A stroke can have different impacts on people ranging from minor problems such as temporary weakness in limbs to more serious problems such as paralysis, losing the ability to speak or death. Moreover, in some people these issues are temporary and in others they prove to be permanent.

Given the devastating effects that a stroke can have, the importance in diagnosing and treating them quickly cannot be overstated. They key is quickly recognizing the symptoms. Classic stroke symptoms include sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, leg or one side of the body; sudden loss of vision, strength, coordination, sensation, or speech; and trouble swallowing. It is crucial that when a patient presents with any one or a combination of these symptoms, that the doctor include a stroke in the differential diagnosis.

One of the most serious conditions that can result from a delay in diagnosis of a stroke is what has been named “Locked-In Syndrome.” Locked-In Syndrome can occur as the result of a brain stem stroke. A person who suffers from Locked-In Syndrome is fully awake and conscious but is unable to speak, move their limbs or faces. Often, they are able only to move and blink their eyes. Although sometimes the severity of the stroke itself can cause this type of brain stem damage, often times such serious damage and complication can be avoided if the doctor timely diagnoses and appropriate treats the stroke. If you or a loved one has had a stroke that you think could have, and should have been diagnosed sooner, we encourage you to contact one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys to discuss your options at (410) 385-2225.