Module 4 Placement: Stroke

Stroke week was less busy than I thought it would be, but stroke is so so interesting! Two words: Homonymous hemianopia. This is when someone loses half of a field of vision on the same side in both their eyes, and it is also quite the tongue twister. Try saying it a couple of times really fast, and brownie points to you if you can, because I still have to really think about what I’m saying to get the words out.

I got to examine patients with homonymous hemianopia, as well as  patients with left and right sided weakness, depending on which part of their brain was affected by the stroke. One of the patients I saw was a painter, and my heart broke for him when he told me how he can’t paint anymore, due to not being able to use his left hand. He was optimistic about learning how to use his right hand though, so I really hope that works out for him.

Learning how to do a stroke examination was fun, and a nice throwback to last year, as it brought back examining reflexes, sensation, power and tone in the limbs. Yay for spiral learning!

As always, anatomy is my Everest, but the brain is SO COOL, and I find its anatomy really fascinating. Fun fact: The frontal lobe was the site of lobotomies in the 20th century, and as the frontal lobe is involved in cognition and social interaction, lobotomies often had a very negative effect on the personalities and functioning of patients. Notable people who had lobotomies include Randle McMurphy in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (a great book that I highly recommend), and Rosemary Kennedy, the sister of JFK, whose failed lobotomy at the age of 23 led to her being put in an institution for the rest of her life. So sad.

I could go on for ages about how cool the brain is, but I’ll save some of my enthusiasm for next year, which is when we do neurology properly. BUZZING.

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