Basal Ganglia – Function, Stroke Causes (Calcification and Infarct)

Basal ganglia are tissues in the brain that are located deep in the cerebral hemispheres. These tissues consist of the putamen, globus pallidus, and caudate. This part of the brain can be depleted of blood supply, resulting in damage and blockage. When there is impairment in blood supply in brain, it can result to stroke. A stroke that occurs in this area can lead to various symptoms such as changes in movement and difficulties in speech. Basal ganglia play a role in different functions such as control of cognition, coordination of movement, and regulation of voluntary movement.

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Causes of basal ganglia stroke

Aspects such as calcification or calcium deposits can cause impaired blood supply in the basal ganglia tissues. When there is abnormal calcium deposits in the area of brain know as basal ganglia, it can result to cognitive, psychiatric, and neurological complications. Some of the symptoms experienced by a patient with basal ganglia calcifications include mental deterioration, progressive speech impairment, chorea, urinary incontinence, partial motor seizures, parkinsonism, depression, dystonia, and memory problems.

Dystonia is a neurological movement disorder, which is characterized by sustained muscle contractions that cause twisting, abnormal postures, and repetitive movements. Basal ganglia calcification may occur as a result of infections, metabolic disorders, and genetic diseases. Some common causes of basal ganglia calcification are pseudohypoparathyroidism and hypoparathyroidism.


Basal ganglia infarct occurs when there is interruption of blood circulation in the small blood vessels or arteries located in the cerebral cortex. This condition could manifest at any age and it may be caused by certain medical conditions like blood disorders, hypertension, diabetes, and infections. When infarction occurs, there is death of tissues due to impaired blood circulation in the brain tissue. Patients seemingly recovering from infections from bacteria, virus, and fungus may experience basal ganglia infarction. This occurs when these microbes travel to the brain and cause inflammation and swelling.

The inflammation causes increased pressure, which prevents normal blood circulation. The inflammation may compress and rapture the small arteries. When there is inadequate blood flow, it affects the communication between neurons and tissues begin to die out. About 20 percent of strokes in adults occur within the basal ganglia. People with health conditions like diabetes are likely to develop sugar, lipid, and protein molecule coagulation, which form on the inner wall lining of arteries.

This situation causes the walls to thicken, something that leads to reduced elasticity of the vessels. Atherosclerosis may also cause plaque formation on blood vessel walls in the basal ganglia tissue. When blood disorders such as sickle cell anaemia and polycythemia produce abnormal and abundant blood cells, this may in turn cause clotting and artery blockage.

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When stroke damages the basal ganglia tissue, it can cause body changes such as problems in body movement. Since basal ganglia controls and coordinates movement of body parts, when stroke occurs and causes damage to the basal ganglia, it impairs the communication in the nerve center. A condition known as ataxia may occur when the nerve center becomes damaged. The stroke may cause weakness in muscles, difficulties in swallowing, smiling and talking. The problems in swallowing, talking and smiling are caused by the weakened muscles of the throat, mouth, and face. Usually the basal ganglia nerves innervate the muscles.

Another problem witnessed in patients with stroke that damages basal ganglia is cognitive impairment. Stroke in basal ganglia affects the way a person can make decisions. It also affects the memory, attention, language, and other speech problems. The symptoms can improve with time but in rare cases, they return to normal.

Moreover, hemorrhagic stroke occurring in basal ganglia can lead to symptoms like vomiting, nausea, and headache. Bleeding can occur in the caudate nucleus of the basal ganglia and may spread to other parts of the brain. An irritation occurs on the tissue and nerves as a result of the bleeding leading to pain and vomiting.

Increased pressure which is created by the excess blood can cause some parts of the brain tissue to shut down. Loss of consciousness occurs when the parts of the brain begin to shut down causing a coma. In this case, an evacuation of the excess blood is required and repair of the damaged vessel causing the bleeding is needed immediately. Besides, basal ganglia stroke may also lead to personality abnormalities.

A person with the condition may experience change in judgment. One may be confused and takes time to understand things that are happening around him or her. A patient may be frustrated and anxious. Lack of interest and motivation may also be exhibited in patients with basal ganglia stroke. Other symptoms may include inappropriate emotional responses. You may find that patients with the condition laughs or cries for no apparent reason. Patients are also likely to suffer from anger and depression.


Basal ganglia stroke requires emergency treatment and the symptoms should be worked on when the patient wakes up. At the point of acute stroke, a patient may need to be placed in intensive care unit for close observation. In this time, treatment may include stabilization of vital signs, pain medication, and lowering the blood pressure inside the head.

Invasive treatment may be considered such as surgery to remove the blood and shunt surgical operation to drain the system of the fluid. When the acute stage of the stroke of basal ganglia is tackled, a rehabilitation is needed to get the patient back to health. Some of the rehabilitation therapies may include introduction of learning skills to replace those, which might have been lost. Areas of the brains are taught to take over the role of the damaged parts.

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1 Comment

  1. I just had this stroke last Saturday and I don’t feel like me anymore no physical problems. Bit was wondering whatcfo I do now?

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