sudden loss "Use of legs"

F. Frank LeFever flefever at
Wed Jun 3 21:44:23 EST 1998

You say she was referred to a "specialist"--what specialty?  Neurology?
Internal Medicine?

One cause of something like what you seem to be describing involves
perturbations in the region served by the vertebro-basilar arterial
system, perhaps TIAs: called "drop attacks" they are characterized by
sudden unexplained loss of support by legs, without any awareness of
difficulty with them, without loss of consciousness, etc.

Some branches of this system supply brainstem nuclei relevant to
control of speech apparatus, so TIA (tansient ischemic attack) could
also include problems of articulation, if this is what you mean by
"problems with speech".

Anterior branches supply medial temporal lobe, so sporadic memory
lapses possible also (although not necessarily the best explanation,
has been suggested as basis for "transient global amnesia").

Some risk factors for TIA suggested in description: edema suggesting
cardiovascular problems, etc.

In older people, arthritic changes in cervical area may compromise
vertebro-basilar function, possibly marginal to begin with on basis of
vascular anatomy (great interindividual variability in anastomoses and
compensatory distribution) and/or arteriosclerotic narrowing of

F. Frank LeFever, Ph.D.
New York Neuropsychology Group

In <01bd8f15$520b4f40$ad2e63c3 at default> "Global"
<waterwatch at> writes: 
>I hope that someone may be able to suggest a diagnosis for my mother.
>She is 82 years old, and for the last 18 monhs, has suffered 
>sudden loss of use in her legs.
>She has no pain, and remains concious, however she collapses to the
>ground, and has received various cuts and bruises.
>I have noticed at times that she "Yawns" rather a lot, and also that
>ankles swell ( Not huge) but larger than normal,and are very blue at
>She also at times has difficulty with her memory, and speech.
>I first noticed something was wrong at my fathers funeral, when we
>were leaving the crematorium, she was walking to the left, as if she
>had no control.
>She has seen her Doctor several times, who could find no explanation
>and he referred her to a specialist, who also could not diagnose
>I am getting very worried now, as she had a serious fall yesterday and
>the loss of use of her legs appears to be increasing.
>I would be very obliged if somebody could give me an indication as to
>what could be wrong, so that I could suggest to her Doctor.
>Thank you in anticipation
>Peter Betts

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