A Stroke Can Happen at Any Age

Doctors: To translate this video's captions for your patients, contact us here.

Video Transcript

I like to ride my motorcycle and invent things like sketch out my ideas. And play Crazy Eights. Once things become her idea, then she's off to the races. And there's, you know, not really any stopping her. She's your typical 10 year old kid. Most people when they meet Rhys would never know that she spent hundreds of hours in physical therapy.

I had a great pregnancy. I was never on bed rest, I never felt sick and at 28 weeks I went in for a routine ultrasound. They were born at 8:40 in the morning. And before noon, they had Rhys in with an EEG and an MRI and they called in a pediatric neurologist who came in and said what we noticed on her MRI is she has four lesions in the left parietal lobe of her brain which indicates that she had a stroke at some point while you were pregnant. When you hear that your not even three hour old child has had some sort of injury to their brain, your mind starts to race. You start to feel nervous and kind of panic. And more importantly, the thing that I wanted an answer to was why did she have a stroke in the first place?

They did a lot of the same things in very similar time periods. They both smiled within two or three days of each other. But when the more noticeable gross motor skills start to take off, her twin was way, way ahead of her.

Physical therapy for Rhys has been very important for her. It's the reason that she can feel comfortable going to school. What we use it mostly for is making sure that her gate is right so that when she walks, she can clear her toe off the ground, that she can walk with us when we go for a walk or ride a bike. It's made a huge difference for her.

We don't know what the future will hold. Every growth spurt is a new challenge for her in terms of walking and everything else. But she, for us, has always defied expectation in the greatest of ways.

I like Legos. They're kind of a labor of love. I mean you don't sit down for at least seven hours on each and dislike them. And I really do enjoy building them. For Alex, I think Legos a time to go somewhere else. A time to focus on building, thinking. In some ways, he's grown up faster than most kids have because of what's happened to him.

I like to think of it as the day that potentially saved Alex's life. It was a snow day. I woke up and I was just sitting on the couch watching cartoons. And the entire right half of my body was tingly. And I assumed it was probably a pinched nerve or had been roughhousing with his brothers. And shortly thereafter he complained of tingling in his face. The hair on the back of my neck stood up because being an EMT, we're trained that one of the symptoms of stroke is paralysis or tingly or numbness on one side of your body. Although I didn't think stroke, I thought that something neurological was going on. So I gave him a stroke test. The neurologist came out of the MRI and said, I'm so sorry. We did see something. Which are the words no parent ever wants to hear. And he said Alex had a stroke. You have so many questions, you're so confused. The range of thoughts and emotions you go through were massive. I couldn't quite figure out how this happened. How could a child have a stroke? How could my healthy child have a stroke?

Alex had no medical history that would have led to this. Stroke is awful. It's a weird and scary experience. Ten months later, after Alex's first stroke on a daily aspirin, unfortunately Alex had a second stroke four times larger than the first. He struggles terribly with migraines that come with terrible side effects. Vomiting, feeling queasy all the time, feeling nauseous all the time.

His name's Rigby. If it's nice out, I'll take him for a walk. I can't do everything I used to be able to do. I can't jump on the trampoline. I can't go off the diving board. I can't do any contact sports anymore because I'm on blood thinners to prevent the strokes.

I don't know if a child on the ambulance with a severe one-sided headache would warrant a stroke test from me. Obviously now that's all changed and that's part of my passion and my mission is to spread the word particularly amongst first responders like myself. It does happen. The more people know and understand that pediatric stroke is a real stroke and the same stroke that older people suffer from, the better off pediatric stroke and kids that suffer from it will be. There has been a lot of work done to educate the public about the problem of stroke in adults. And now it's time to move that knowledge to include young children and infants. And that their need for acute treatment is just as important as an adult and as we say an adult's time is brain the same is absolutely true in the young child. We all need to come together to make sure that we recognize these symptoms early, that we treat them as early as possible and as completely as possible so that those children can tap into their own internal strengths and put it together with what we can do to help them to recover and move forward and have a full life.