Brainstem stroke

The brainstem connects the brain and the spinal cord. It controls many important functions, such as breathing, blood pressure and heart rhythm. Changes that may occur after a stroke in the brainstem include the following.

  • breathing problems
  • coma:
    You are unable to wake up or move.
  • dysphagia:
    You have a swallowing problem caused by weakness or loss of feeling in your tongue, lips, palate, throat or all.
  • heart problems
  • hearing loss
  • hemiparesis or hemiplegia:
    You have weakness, partial or complete paralysis on your left side or right side or both.
  • "locked in" state:
    You appear to be aware of your surroundings, but are unable to speak or respond in a meaningful way.
  • sensation changes:
    You have numbness or loss of feeling on your left side or right side or both.

Source: Allina Health Patient EducationUnderstanding Stroke, fifth edition, neuro-ahc-90662
Reviewed By: Allina Health Patient Education experts
First Published: 02/01/2006
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2018