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Stroke in Children

AMBULATORY CARE:

A stroke

happens when blood flow to part of the brain is interrupted. This can cause serious brain damage from a lack of oxygen. Brain function may be affected depending on where the stroke happens. A stroke can happen when your child is still in the womb, or at any age after birth. A stroke caused by a blood clot is called an ischemic stroke. A stroke caused by a burst or torn blood vessel is called a hemorrhagic stroke. Signs and symptoms of a stroke will depend on where in the brain it occurred. Signs and symptoms usually appear suddenly.

Warning signs of a stroke:

The words BE FAST can help you remember and recognize warning signs of a stroke:

  • B = Balance: Sudden loss of balance
  • E = Eyes: Loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • F = Face: Face droops on one side
  • A = Arms: Arm drops when both arms are raised
  • S = Speech: Speech is slurred or sounds different
  • T = Time: Time to get help immediately
BE FAST SIGNS OF A STROKE

Signs and symptoms of a stroke in newborns and infants:

  • Seizures
  • Trouble eating
  • Trouble breathing or pauses in breathing
  • Paralysis on one side of his or her body, or using only one arm
  • Developmental delays such as crawling later than usual

Signs and symptoms of a stroke in older children and teenagers:

Any of the following can develop at the time of a stroke, or years later:

  • Seizures
  • Being less awake than usual or loss of consciousness
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Headache with or without vomiting
  • Sudden weakness in an arm or leg, or trouble walking
  • Sudden changes in mood or behavior
  • Trouble speaking or swallowing
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Having trouble completing schoolwork

Call your local emergency number (911 in the US) for any of the following:

  • Your child has any of the following signs of a stroke:
    • Numbness or drooping on one side of the face
    • Weakness in an arm or leg
    • Confusion or difficulty speaking
    • Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
    • BE FAST SIGNS OF A STROKE
  • Your child has a seizure.
  • Your child feels lightheaded, short of breath, or has chest pain.
  • Your child coughs up blood.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child's arm or leg is warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
  • Your child has vision loss or a severe headache.
  • Your child has trouble having a bowel movement or urinating.

Call your child's doctor if:

  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment

will depend on the type of stroke your child had. It will also depend on what has caused the stroke. Your child may need extra oxygen or liquids. He or she may also be given vitamin K to help with blood clotting. Your child may also need any of the following:

  • Medicines may be given to break up clots or help your child's blood clot more easily. Your child may also need medicine to control seizures or anemia (low red blood cell count). If your child has hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), he or she will be given medicine to lower the level. Medicine may also be given to raise or lower your child's temperature.
  • Thrombolysis is a procedure used to break apart clots in an artery in the brain. A catheter is guided into the artery until it is near the clot. Medicine is put through the catheter that will help break apart the clot.
  • Surgery may be used to remove a blood clot or collection of blood, or to relieve pressure within your child's brain. Your child may also need surgery to place a clip to stop blood flow into an artery in his or her brain.

Recovery testing:

Your child's healthcare provider will test your child's recovery 90 days (3 months) after the stroke. This may be done over the phone or in person. The provider will ask how well your child can do the activities he or she did before the stroke. The provider will also ask how well your child can do daily activities without help. Your child's provider may make recommendations for your child based on the test. For example, your child may need someone to help him or her walk safely. Your child may also need help with daily activities, such as getting dressed. Based on the answers, your child's provider may do this test again over time.

Take your child to rehabilitation (rehab) if directed:

Rehab is a program run by specialists who will help your child recover abilities he or she may have lost. Specialists include physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Physical therapists help your child gain strength or keep his or her balance. Occupational therapists teach your child new ways to do daily activities. Your child's therapy may include movements for everyday activities. A speech therapist helps your child improve the ability to talk and swallow.

Make your home safe for your child:

Your child may have trouble walking or keeping his or her balance after a stroke. The following can help lower the risk for falls:

  • Remove anything your child might trip over.
  • Keep paths clear throughout your home. Tape electrical cords down so your child does not trip on them.
  • Make sure your home is well lighted.
  • Put nonslip materials on surfaces that might be slippery. An example is your bathtub or shower floor. Help your child get into and out of the shower or bathtub.
  • Help your child use assistive devices, if needed. Your child may need to use a walker or cane. He or she may also need devices to help with daily activities.

Help prevent a stroke in your child:

Help your child create healthy habits to continue as an adult. This can help prevent risk factors that may lead to a stroke. After a stroke, your child is at increased risk for another stroke. It is important to help your child lower his or her risk as much as possible. Your child's healthcare provider can tell you more about the following:

  • Manage your child's health conditions. A condition such as diabetes can increase your child's risk for a stroke. Control your child's blood sugar level if he or she has hyperglycemia or diabetes. Make sure your child takes his or her prescribed medicines and checks blood sugar levels as directed.
    How to check your blood sugar
  • Check your child's blood pressure if directed. High blood pressure can increase the risk for a stroke. If your child has high blood pressure, follow directions for controlling it.
    How to take a Blood Pressure
  • Offer your child a variety of healthy foods. Healthy foods include whole-grain breads, low-fat dairy products, beans, lean meats, and fish. Your child should eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. Offer foods that are low in fat, cholesterol, salt, and sugar. Choose foods that are high in potassium, such as potatoes and bananas. A dietitian can help you create healthy meal plans.

  • Have your child exercise as directed. Activity is important for preventing a stroke. Exercise also helps control blood pressure and weight. Children and teenagers should get at least 60 minutes of physical activity each day. It may help to make exercise a family activity. Find an activity or exercise your child enjoys.
    Family Walking for Exercise
  • Help your child maintain a healthy weight. Ask your healthcare provider what a healthy weight is for your child. Ask the provider to help you create a weight loss plan if your child is overweight. Providers can help you and your child break weight loss into small goals if your child has a lot of weight to lose.
  • Talk to your teenager about not smoking. Nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes and cigars can increase the risk for a stroke. Ask healthcare providers for information if your teen currently smokes and needs help to quit. E-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco still contain nicotine. Talk to providers before he or she uses these products.

Follow up with your child's doctor as directed:

Your child may need to come in for regular tests of his or her brain function. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

For support and more information:

  • American Heart Association and American Stroke Association
    1777 S. Harrison Street
    Denver , CO 80210
    Phone: 1- 303 - 801-4630
    Web Address: http://www.heart.org

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

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