Increasingly, how we use our gadgets offers more clues about human behavior and health than which devices we choose to include in our tech arsenals. Now a new study indicates that, in certain cases, a person's garbled text messages could point toward a serious neurological condition, or even signal an imminent medical emergency.
In a recent case published in the Archives of Neurology, a group of doctors have identified a new phenomenon specific to our digital age they have dubbed "dystextia." The article cites the case of a 25-year-old pregnant woman who was admitted to the hospital after sending her husband a series of confusing, garbled text messages. Rather than appearing as common auto-correct errors, the messages were distinctly erratic, with one message reading "every where thinging days nighing." Upon examining the woman, doctors determined that she had indeed experienced a stroke, a diagnosis later confirmed by an MRI. During a verbal examination, doctors were also able to identify dysphasia, a common symptom of stroke patients manifesting itself as incoherent speech.
That speech difficulty, which can also be expressed in attempts to send text messages during such medical events, is what the doctors believe will come to be widely known as dystextia. The article concludes, "the growing digital record will likely become an increasingly important means of identifying neurologic disease, particularly in patient populations that rely more heavily on written rather than spoken communication."
So, if you suddenly see text messages from a friend of family member that seem a bit more off-kilter than simple auto-correct failures, according to these doctors, it might be a wise idea to make sure your texting buddy isn't experiencing a health emergency.