Childhood Stroke Awareness Month

My niece, three weeks after coming home from the hospital.

My sister comforting my niece after her blood test. This was to check the phenobarbital levels in her blood stream to prevent seizures.

Check up with Dr. McCarthy.

Physical and Occupational Therapists from the Early Intervention Program at the Guidance Center are evaluating her visual and perceptual skills.

Eight years ago, my niece had a stroke on the left side of her brain just a few hours after she was born. The nurses rushed her to the NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) where the doctors quickly worked to stabilize her condition. She was closely monitored for a week to make sure seizures were under control. A panel of doctors sat in front of my sister a few days later to report their prognosis. The cause of the stroke was inconclusive and they were vague on the long term effects of her condition. My sister was so distraught knowing she was faced with an uncertain future. With a heavy heart, she took her daughter home. It was a very difficult time but we all pulled together as a family.

My niece is hemiparetic which means she has weakness in the right side of her body due to the stroke. Her right hand was most affected. Her fine motor skills are impaired and therefore will need life long therapy to maximize mobility. Thanks to the Early Intervention Program and the therapy sessions offered by her school, she is is doing well.

Further research is needed by the medical community in perinatal and childhood stroke to identify risk factors and eventually determine the best treatment and prevention. For further information, please visit the Childhood Hemiplegia and Stroke Association website.