Somebody gave my book a crappy review because there's nothing specifically about cerebellar strokes. But there is. A stroke can happen in the cerebrum, cerebellum or brain stem. I don't have anything specifically about the cerebrum or brain stem strokes or cerebellar strokes. I just have stuff about stroke.
Is there something inherently different about cerebellar stroke vis-a-vie strokes in the cerebrum or brain stem? No. What about a stroke that hits the posterolateral thalamus? Maybe the folks who have had a stroke that hit the posterolateral thalamus (or was exclusive to white matter or only hit the pituitary gland, or any of the other dozens of structures in the brain) should get their own chapters or books. Actually, I'd love to see that happen. In the mean time, my book is a review of the neuroplastic process that encompasses all of those. Recovery from all of them fall under the same neuroplastic model of stroke recovery.
I don't like the template for recovery being contingent on where the stroke is. Again and again I stress that the view that the brain is NOT cordoned off into specific compartments that necessarily control specific functions. This notion, that the brain is sectioned off into independent exclusive sections is called the "mechanistic view of the brain". In fact, in my book there is a whole section (NEUROPLASTICITY AND HOW SCIENCE GOT IT WRONG) about this (brain=machine) mistaken perspective.
What does the cerebellum do?
Cerebellum is Latin for "little brain." It sits at the bottom and back of the brain (3D animation here). The cerebellum is involved in providing precision and coordination movement. The cerebellum is said to "calibrate" movement. It doesn't initiate movement, it just makes movement smooth and coordinated. People who have had a cerebellar stroke often have an uncoordinated tremor. For example, if they were to reach out and try to touch target in front of them, and then their nose they would have difficulty targeting towards both. As the person got closer to the target end to their nose tremor in the targeting finger would increase. This phenomenon, called ataxia, is very similar to a phenomenon known as intention tremor. Find a possible neuroplastic option for the treatment of intention tremor here.
Notes about the cerebellum and cerebellar stroke.
- Compared to the rest of the brain, damage to the cerebellum is a little "backwards." In most strokes, if the stroke affects the right side of the brain, the left side of the body is weak or paralyzed, and vice versa. With the cerebellum is the stroke is on the right side, the right side of the body is affected.
- Cerebellar strokes are unusual. About 2% of all strokes are cerebellar.
- It would be well and good to assume that the cerebellum is only involved in coordinating movement. However, like much of the brain, the cerebellum is poorly understood. It is now believed to have at least some role in higher level thinking as well as emotions.
- (Find an interesting piece on a cerebellar stroke survivor here.)
How do I rehab after cerebellar stroke?
It turns out that the same rules of plasticity available to the rest of the brain are available to the cerebellum as well. Here's my suggestion: Forget about where the stroke was. Instead, focus your efforts on sequalae.