Dystextia --Causes and Remedies

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April 8, 2014
By Louise Carr, Associate Editor and Featured Columnist





If you receive garbled text messages from your husband or
your friend, don’t just type LOL; suggest they see a doctor
instead. Sending nonsensical text messages where the words
are mixed up and the letters are jumbled inside the word is
known as dystextia, and it could be the sign of a serious
health condition, according to experts.

Dystextia Could Signal Stroke

A Boston man recently helped save the life of his pregnant
wife through identifying a stroke from her bizarre text
messages, as reported in a 2013 study by Harvard Medical
School. Messages like "every where thinging days nighing"
and "Some is where!" got her sent to the emergency room,
where doctors noticed other signs of stroke including
inability to move her right arm and leg, and difficulty
speaking. Fortunately her symptoms were treated with low-
dose blood thinners and her pregnancy continued without
problem.

A 2013 study from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust,
UK also highlighted a case where difficulty stringing together
texts identified acute ischemic stroke.

And a 2013 report from the Henry Ford Hospital looked at a
man who was unable to see a problem with his garbled text
messages, even when he passed a test of his language
abilities in speaking, reading and writing. Doctors determined
he had suffered an acute ischemic stroke.

Doctors say text messages will become an increasingly
important means of identifying neurologic disease,
particularly in people who rely on their cell more than the
spoken word. These days, people in the US under 34 send an
average of between 30 and 67 text message per day, new
data from a 2013 Experian study show.

This deluge of texts can be an important diagnostic tool to
doctors. Text messages are automatically stamped with date
and time, helping to establish when symptoms began.

Dystextia Sounds Silly – Stroke is Serious

The use of the term dystextia may seem silly and slightly
offensive – almost making fun of the condition dyslexia. It is
easy to make light of the news reports that claim doctors
diagnose stroke by text message.

But stroke is serious – and anything that potentially helps
diagnose more cases, more quickly, can only be a good thing.

Stroke is responsible for the deaths of 130,000 Americans a
year, and almost 87 percent of strokes are ischemic strokes,
where the blood flow to the brain is blocked, causing
language difficulties among other symptoms, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

1.
Dystextia Can Be Caused by Stroke --- Quick Action May
Prevent Stroke and Save Lives




























It’s clear that early action is essential for better chances of
survival, and it is possible that noticing someone’s dystextia
could be one such warning signal. Stroke is rare in people
aged between 15 and 34, which is why stroke may not have
been diagnosed until it was too late in the case of the
pregnant woman and the man sending his wife garbled texts.

There are other signs, however, which may be even more
obvious. Patients who arrive at the emergency room within
three hours of their first stroke symptoms tend to have less
disability three months after a stroke than those who
received delayed care, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention.

Know the signs:
•        Sudden severe headache
•        Sudden numbness or weakness in the arm, leg, or
face, particularly on one side of the body
•        Confusion, difficulty speaking, writing (i
ncluding text
messaging
), or understanding speech
•        Sudden vision problems
•        Trouble walking or lack of coordination



2.
Dystextia is a Form of Aphasia

According to researchers at the Henry Ford Hospital in 2013,
dystextia can often be the only symptom of stroke-related
aphasia – the inability to form or understand language.


That bears repeating.
The only sign you may ever get that
you or a relative or loved one is in danger of having a stroke
is a garbled text message from them.

This is why it is critical that you don't just laugh off or
dismiss receiving repeated garbled messages, especially if the
person who sent them does not normally send garbled texts.

Aphasia makes it hard for you to say what you mean to say,
which also applies to putting your thoughts into text message
format. There are four main types of aphasia, according to
the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:
Expressive aphasia, where you know what you want to
express but can’t say what you mean; receptive aphasia,
where you can’t make sense of what someone is saying;
anomic aphasia, where you have difficulty using the correct
word or phrase; and, global aphasia, where you cannot
understand speech, speak, read, or write. Dystextia is most
likely to fall under the expressive aphasia banner.

3. Language Therapy for Dystextia?

While dystextia may be a limited display of aphasia, if
problems persist then it may be best treated with language
therapy.

With impairment-based therapy, clinicians stimulate speaking,
writing, reading and listening skills in order to improve
language function.

With communication-based therapy, doctors aim to enhance
communication in any way they can, usually in a more
natural, real-life environment, according to the National
Aphasia Association.

A 2012 study from Glasgow Caledonian University, UK found
speech and language therapy for aphasia after a stroke was
effective in terms of improved functional communication and
expressive language.

4.
Cell Phones May Be Part of the Cure

Therapists often work with alternative methods of
communication in order to remedy aphasia – it seems that
using apps on smartphones and electronic devices can be one
way in which someone can express themselves more
effectively.

If dystextia signals a
stroke, and aphasia continues after the
stroke is managed, technology related to smartphones and
voice output communication aids can be helpful while the
person learns how to communicate effectively once more.

5.
Learn How to Communicate with Someone with Aphasia

According to the UK’s National Health Service, communicating
with someone who suffers from aphasia can be difficult.

If you are living with or close to someone that has problems
communicating, either through text messages, speech or
writing, make sure you are patient and careful when
speaking or listening.

Allow a person plenty of time to respond through text or
speech. Use short sentences and closed questions.

Do not pretend you understand someone’s nonsensical texts
or speech – this can be patronizing and upsetting to the
person affected.

6.
Music Therapy for Dystextia Sufferers

Music therapy has been used with success in people with
aphasia, and could be used for severe forms of dystextia. A
2012 report from the Institute for Music and Neurologic
Function, Beth Abraham Family of Health Services, New York
showed music therapy was useful for people who had
difficulty producing meaningful words and sentences.

Whether it would make a difference to purely written forms
of aphasia is another matter, but the field could be expanded
to test if writing therapy could also be useful.

7.
Slow Down and Pay Attention to Your Texts

It can be difficult for doctors to diagnose stroke from garbled
text messages due to the autocorrect function which gives
the impression that there is a language disorder, when in
reality the problem is a lack of time taken to create the texts.

To avoid worrying friends and relatives, slow down. Take a
little extra time to check that you’ve written what you meant
to say – you can also avoid embarrassing mistakes this way.


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