In a healthy child, blood vessels carry oxygen-rich blood to the brain on a continual basis. Pediatric stroke occurs when one of those blood vessels either ruptures or becomes too clogged to allow blood to pass through. The end result is a host of complications, including brain damage, risk for repeat strokes, developmental delays, seizures and death.
- Hemorrhagic (rupture) stroke
- Ischemic (blockage) stroke
- Facial, arm or leg twitching
- Preference to use only one hand before 18 months of age
- Unexplainable breathing pauses accompanied with staring spells
- Weakness or lack of movement on one side of the body
- Because pediatric stroke is typically caused by congenital factors, there are no proven preventative steps. That said, preventing infection in infants and children may help prevent pediatric stroke.
- Congenital heart problems
- Sickle cell disease
- Medical history and symptom review. The provider reviews the child’s symptoms, medical history and risk factors.
- Physical examination. The doctor will examine the child to determine if certain symptoms (weakness on one side of the body, etc.) indicate stroke.
- Imaging tests. CT, MRI and other imaging methods are required for a definitive pediatric stroke diagnosis.
- Medication, such as aspirin or other blood-thinning medication, may be used during an active stroke or to help prevent a future stroke.
- Catheters (thin, flexible tubes) may be guided to the site of the stroke to repair the damaged artery or remove clots.
- Surgical removal of part of the skull can relieve pressure caused by brain swelling.
- Occupational therapy helps children who suffer stroke relearn how to perform tasks of daily living, such as holding a fork and tying their shoes.
- Physical therapy works to strengthen weakened muscles and regain balance and coordination.
- Speech therapists work with children who have had a stroke to help them learn or relearn how to speak clearly.
- Medication or surgery may be required to overcome complications brought on by the stroke.