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In birds cereblral apoplexy in general is quite rare. In most cases older budgies, cockatiels
or lovebirds are affected by this health problem. It is fairly unlikely that a young bird
gets hit by a stroke.
What is a cerebral apoplexy?
The most frequent symptom of a cerebral apoplexy is that one half of the body is completely lamed. That means the toes, the foot, the leg and even the wing are paralysed. This can easily be explained: In general only one brain hemisphere is affected by the lack of oxygen and therefore the opposite half of the body is paralysed due to a stroke. Many birds also go blind, but in general only one eye is affected (the one on the side where the limps are lamed). After falling off the perch the bird lies on the ground and is hardly able to move. The animal seems to have lost orientation and many birds are in panic. It is very hard for a bird owner to calm a budgie down right after an apoplexy occurred.
In the first days after it happened most birds suffer from an absence of appetite and therefore they could starve if their owner doesn't give them special care such as taking them to an animal hospital immediately.
How to diagnose a cerebral apoplexy
Depending on how well the therapy takes effect, the bird is out of the woods within a week. If the drugs still show no effect after one week the brain damages caused by the apoplexy are too heavy and therefore are immedicable. In this case you should think about putting the poor bird down even though this might be a very hard decision for you. Sometimes life becomes a torture for a bird who survived an apoplexy and there is no hope that things will turn to good account. Even though it hurts it's better release the suffering little soul.
Accommodation of apoplexy patients
Other things you can do to help your bird
A diet of soft and healthy food is very important for the birds. You should offer them soaked or sprouted seeds. Since birds are in need of vitamin b you should add wheat to the seed mixture. Sprouted wheat contains lots of healthy nutrients and also vitamin b. Fresh food like fruit or vegetables should also be part of the daily diet.
Some avian vets recommend adding vitamin supplements to the drinking water. As long as the water dishes are cleaned at least once a day this is a good advice. Most liquid vitamin supplements contain lots of sugar and therefore the drinking water can easily be contaminated by pathogenic germs. Therefore it is so important to clean or even disinfect the dishes carefully.
Even though most birds feel cold after an apoplexy you should never warm them with an infrared lamp (warmth therapy). Due to the heat, the blood vessels dilate and especially inside the brain this causes an increase of the blood pressure. Higher blood pressure can cause irreparable damage to the already battered brain sections and worsen the bird's health status.
In order to re-establish the mobility of the paralysed limbs, it can be advisable to carefully train the bird (physical therapy). Please ask your avian vet about this training and do not start too early. The sick bird should not be trained within the first week after it suffered the apoplexy.
A bird's life after a cerebral apoplexy
To be honest the hardest part of all is to decide whether the bird can lead a good life with a remaining handicap or not. An objective decision is so hard to make that it is always better to ask at least one other person for help. And of course one should discuss the case history and the prognosis with an avian vet. Sometimes a feathered patient survives the apoplexy and even seems to recover within the first few weeks. But then the health status does not improve anymore and the bird for example would never be able to eat without the help of its owner. Even though one is full of hope on the one hand and on the other hand full of fear of losing a beloved pet, sometimes it is necessary to take the final step and put a bird to sleep.
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