Stroke and Dizziness


Signs and Symptoms of a Dizzy Stroke

While most strokes cause weakness on one side of the body, some strokes affect areas of the brain called the cerebellum or brainstem, and the symptoms can be quite different.

There are two main arteries in the brain that can cause dizziness during a stroke.

Anterior Inferior Cerebellar Artery (AICA) Stroke

Posterior Inferior Cerebellar Artery (PICA) Stroke

What causes a Stroke?

A stroke can either be caused by ischaemia (blocked blood vessel) or a haemorrhage (bleeding from a blood vessel). Both types of stroke cause a loss of circulation and oxygen to the brain, resulting in the death of brain cells in the affected area.

Brain Diagnosis
vestibular system

Diagnosing Stroke

Your therapist or doctor may find evidence of a potential stroke during an assessment when they look at your eye movements, muscle strength, sensation coordination, reflexes, mobility, balance and vestibular system.

The diagnosis of a stroke is confirmed using a CT scan or MRI scan of your brain. A review by a neurologist is also performed to diagnose and manage the stroke.

Treating Stroke

The treatment of the stroke will depend on the type of stroke, embolic or haemorrhage.

Posterior Inferior Cerebellar Artery (PICA) Stroke

Some ischaemic strokes are caused by a blood clot that can be dissolved or extracted, thus restoring blood flow to that area of the brain. A haemorrhagic stroke will be treated with strategies that stop further bleeding. If blood thinners are already being taken, they may be ceased. High blood pressure can be lowered. Some haemorrhages may require a surgery.

Long-term treatment

Long-term recovery will involve the doctors assessing and managing potential stroke risk factors such as heart conditions, blood pressure, blood thinners etc. Physical and cognitive recovery may be managed with the help of allied health clinicians. Any dizziness or weakness in your arms or legs or difficulty moving or walking may be able to be retrained through physical exercises and movement training with a physiotherapist.

vertigo and imbalance

Vestibular Rehabilitation after a Stroke

The brain has the capacity to change and rewire itself through a process of neuroplasticity. When part of the brain is damaged, the brain can rewire itself to recover a particular function.

Dizziness and imbalance that occurs secondary to a stroke may be reduced through vestibular rehabilitation training. It involves different types of head movement strategies, as well as balance retraining in different conditions and habituation exercises that are aimed at retraining the brain.