Gerstmann Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

It is a rare neurological disease, with a possible vascular cause that affects the parietal lobe.

This disorder was first identified and described by Dr. Josef Gerstmann in 1924, for his contributions to advancing scientific research and awareness of this neurological disorder and disease.

Since then, advances in the diagnosis and care of Gerstmann syndrome have continued to advance.

It is a rare disease and should not be confused with Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker syndrome, which is a genetic disorder and a neurogenerative disease.

Gerstmann syndrome is a rare neurological disorder that causes cognitive impairment that occurs as a result of a traumatic brain injury or a developmental disorder.

This disorder occurs as a result of brain injury to the left cerebral hemisphere of the brain and can be found in children and adults alike.

The number of people with Gerstmann syndrome remains unknown, and there are questions about the number of people living with Gerstmann syndrome worldwide.

Causes of Gerstmann syndrome

Gerstmann’s syndrome, scientifically speaking, occurs in the presence of a contusion in one of the lobes of the brain , which specifically tends to affect the angular gyrus found in the lower parietal lobe.

In adults, Gerstmann syndrome is more likely to occur after a stroke and can occur as a result of a stroke.

Other times, the disease is caused by impaired or restricted blood flow to the brain, which is also known as cerebrovascular disease.

Multiple sclerosis can also cause this syndrome.

In even rarer cases, Gerstmann syndrome can occur after a traumatic brain injury or as a result of a brain tumor in the same part of the brain.

Gerstmann syndrome can affect men and women equally.

Gerstmann syndrome symptoms

The syndrome is broadly defined and characterized by the loss or absence of four cognitive abilities:

  • The ability to express thoughts in writing (agraphia, dysgraphia).
  • The ability to perform and perform simple arithmetic or mathematical problems (acalculia).
  • The ability to recognize or identify one’s own or other’s fingers (finger agnosia).
  • The ability to distinguish between the right and left sides of our body.

Three of the most common recognizable symptoms in affected children are that they may have poor handwriting, below-average spelling skills, and difficulty performing basic math skills like adding, subtracting, dividing, and multiplying.

Children may also have trouble reading or understanding certain words, remembering their meanings, and spelling them.

Basic tasks such as copying a simple object or drawing basic lines also appear to be problematic for children with Gerstmann syndrome.

When it comes to handwriting, both children and adults may have difficulty distinguishing between upper and lower case, can write pages full of unfinished letters, and demonstrate an inconsistency in the shape and size of written letters.

In addition to these symptoms being present, some patients also have speech disorders and language disorders.

They may show symptoms of aphasia, which is the difficulty in expressing themselves clearly when speaking.

Patients with aphasia have trouble forming thoughts and expressing them in complete sentences.

They may also have trouble understanding other people’s speech and reading and writing.

Diagnosis and tests

To make a proper diagnosis of Gerstmann syndrome, many tests are necessary.

Some of these tests are more complicated than others, and some indications of a person who have this disease are much more obvious than others.

Finger agnosia can be difficult to diagnose among children because many healthy children cannot name their fingers.

An individual’s medical history and family history and a physical examination are the standard components of any diagnostic examination.

Neurological exams assess a person’s sensory and motor responses, balance, and coordination.

Certain medical imaging tests, such as MRI and CT scans, can be used to view the brain and assess its function and structure.

A brain biopsy can confirm the presence of lesions.

Treatment and therapy

Unfortunately, at present, there is no cure for Gerstmann syndrome.

Symptoms are cared for as needed, and treatment is largely supportive, meaning it attempts to lessen symptoms rather than cure the underlying disease.

Because the symptoms of Gerstmann syndrome are so diverse and affect many basic functions of daily life, there have been a variety of treatment options to help prevent further impairment of certain abilities.

To help lessen the effects of dysgraphia and apraxia, it has been shown to be helpful for patients to participate in some form of occupational therapy and / or speech therapy.

Participating in regular speech and cognitive therapy can help improve one’s ability to express thoughts in writing and verbalize them, an important and necessary function of everyday life.

Special education and the use of calculators can be used to help children with the syndrome.

In rarer cases, when Gerstmann syndrome is present due to an existing brain tumor or injury, surgery may be used to treat the condition.

Natalizumab is a drug that has been used to treat Gerstmann syndrome that results from multiple sclerosis.

Gerstmann syndrome prevention and prophylaxis

For adults who suffer from the syndrome as a result of a traumatic brain injury or stroke, certain preventive approaches include steps to prevent those conditions.

Wearing a proper helmet while playing extreme or contact sports and riding motorcycles can help prevent traumatic brain injury.

Using caution when driving motor vehicles can include wearing seat belts and can help prevent traumatic brain injury.

Strokes can be prevented through lifestyle changes, such as adopting a healthy diet and exercising regularly can mitigate risk.

Quitting smoking, as well as avoiding secondhand smoke, can also mitigate the risk of stroke and the conditions that result, such as Gerstmann syndrome.