Lacunar Stroke: Prognosis & Recovery

Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has taught high school and college biology and has a master's degree in cancer biology.

This lesson is going to introduce a type of stroke known as a lacunar stroke. We will discuss the prognosis and common scenarios for expected recovery from a lacunar stroke.

Lacunar Stroke

Every time that you think you know all there is to know about the body, how it works and what can go wrong, there is something new to learn. Our bodies are very intricate and delicate machines with so many parts. Like most machines, there are many things that can go wrong with each part of our body.

Take the brain for example. You have probably heard of a stroke before. A stroke is a loss of oxygenated blood supply to the brain that may result in brain tissue death and/or damage. You already knew that, but do you know that there are many different kinds of strokes? They are different due to what causes the stroke and where the stroke occurs in the brain.

One kind of stroke is a lacunar stroke. This is a loss of oxygenated blood supply due to a blockage in the arteries that supply blood to the deep structures within the brain that may cause temporary or permanent brain tissue death or damage.

Lacunar strokes occur in the deep structures of the brain
Diagram showing the arteries in the deep structures

The area of the brain that gets damaged in this kind of stroke is called a lacune. The location of the lacunar stroke will cause problems with relaying sensory information and coordinated movements since those are the functions of the deep structures.

Prognosis

There is good news in the case of a lacunar stroke. Lacunar strokes are the least fatal of all kinds of strokes. In fact, the percentage of people that die from lacunar stroke is negligible. The other good bit of news about a lacunar stroke is that you are very likely to fully or mostly recover after having a lacunar stroke. Over 90% of people that have a lacunar stroke return to normal or very close to it.

Recovery

This return to normal also happens in a very short period of time. The symptoms of a lacunar stroke may begin to disappear before you even get to the hospital after having one. There are a substantial amount of people that recover from a lacunar stroke within a matter of hours. A lot of other people that suffer a lacunar stroke are normal again within about 3 months after the stroke. The amount of time that it takes to recover depends largely on how long the area of the brain went without oxygen. The longer it goes without oxygen, the worst the lacune and the longer the recovery.

Physical therapy may be a part of recovery
Collage of physical therapy

In the event that you fall into the 3 month recovery group, you can expect to go through physical and occupational therapy to get your brain and body functioning properly again. If the period of time without oxygen is extreme, then it is possible that the brain tissue in that area is completely dead and some amount of disability may continue for the duration of your life. This is usually a rare occurrence, but it can happen.

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