Stroke In Children & Child Rehabilitation After Stroke

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Stroke is a brain attack , children too have a brain , so they can unfortunately get a stroke. Stroke signs are often missed in children , largely due to limited awareness .

We all agree that stroke is a brain issue , but majority believe that stroke only targets the elderly !

Is it only the elderly with a brain ? 

Symptoms Of Stroke In Children

  1. Extreme Sleepiness 
  2. Tendency to use only one side of the body
  3. Trouble talking 
  4. Difficult in understanding what child is being told
  5. Trouble Seeing
  6. Sudden confusion 
  7. Sudden  difficult in walking 
  8. Convulsions, usually on one side of the body
  9. Sudden loss of consciousness ( come )

Approach To Stroke

Addressing the underlying cause is the way to go. No two strokes are the same , but common things occur commonly.

Stroke Due To Blood Clots

Some times , a blood clot blocks the blood vessels supplying the brain. This disruption in blood flow to the brain leads to stroke.

Technology now allow us to track devices into the brain without opening the skull , we remove the offending blood clots restoring blood flow to the brain. This is called stroke thrombectomy , and i offer it.

A 3 years old child , parents noted that she suddenly could not climb her bed , had trouble talking , actually could not move the entire half of the body ( left side). Everything here feels like stroke , head scan next , and surely the entire white area ( blue circle ) is brain damage ( stroke).

Brain scan confirming stroke , white (blue circle ) is the damaged brain area.

Fortunately , the parents consented to stroke thrombectomy , i do not know weither  the innocent 3 year old counter consented , anyway they will sort that issue at family level.

Stroke thrombectomy , through a tiny hole in a groin blood vessel , devices were taken into the brain to remove the clot.

Arrows outlining the clot retrieving device inside the brain

After a minute or so , the clot retrieving device was taken out of the brain , thankfully with the entire clot capture.

Device with a clot

For those struggling to appreciate the clot ,  it is the orange arrow on the photo below.

Removed Blood Clot ( orange arrow)

A look at blood vessels inside the brain , the skull , hair and eyes and  brain itself are digitally subtracted so that we see the tiny brain vessels without anything obscuring , brain blood vessels appear blood.

Before treatment , a vessel inside the brain is blocked ( orange arrow) , after removing the clot ,we now see open blood vessels 

Brain vessels ( black)  before and after treatment.

Stroke Due To Brain Bleeding

The blood vessels in the brain can leak or rapture causing bleeding into the brain. This type of stroke is called hemorrhagic stroke 

Hemorrhagic , because there is hemorrhage, hemorrhage and bleeding are synonymous.

Same rule , find bleeding vessel and repair it , as usual, we do it without opening the skull.

A 6 year old girl with sudden  headache , vomiting and blurring of vision , a typical stroke picture.

Stroke is a brain issue , so a  brain scan was done , a brain bleed (white area inside blue circle ) was evident.

Brain bleed  is white ( blue circle )

So we had to take her up for detailed brain blood vessel imaging , the best in the world being digital subtraction angiography (one where the skull , hair and eyes and  brain itself are digitally subtracted so that we see the tiny brain vessels without anything obscuring)

A tiny swelling ( aneurysm) on brain vessel had ruptured causing bleeding into the brain. Source of the bleed ( blue arrow)

Source of the bleed ( blue arrow). 
A very thin tube called a microcatheter ( black arrow) was taken through a tiny puncture of a thigh blood vessel , into the brain ,  glue was injected to seal the damaged vessel.

The head scan below shows a glue cast inside the brain. 

Glue cast inside the brain (orange arrow )

Bleeding vessel sealed , stroke treated , child cured.

Stroke Due To Sickle Cell Disease

We all have blood , and blood has different cells , each with a role to play.

Red blood cells , actually give human blood its red appearance, I think if they were  called “Blue Blood Cells “ , our blood would appear blue !

The normal red blood cells are round or spherical or whatever your shapes teacher says

Normal red cells are round

Sickle cell disease is a hereditary condition that alters the shape of red blood cells , making them moon or sickle shaped. Actually , a sickle is a garden tool.

So sickle cell disease patients have  normal round red blood cells , mixed with abnormally shaped sickle red blood cells.

Normal and sickle red blood cells , A photo from  Havard health

If you conceptualize blood vessels as pipes  , for they are , everything begins to make perfect sense.

Blood vessels are like pipes

One just has to remember that the size of the blood vessel keeps changing along its course , some segments big , others small.

The normal round red blood cells flow through the pipe well , while the abnormal sickle shaped ones block or clog the body pipes (blood vessels). This perfectly explains most sickle cell disease symptoms 

When the moon (sickle ) shaped cells block tiny  brain blood  vessels , blood flow to the brain reduces or stops ( depending on the degree of blockage )  , resulting into the much dreaded stroke !

Strategies To  Prevent Sickle Cell Disease Related Stroke

With optimal management, stroke in sicklers can be avoided.

Now , there is technology to remove the moon (sickle) cells from the body, and replace them with normal shaped ones.

The joint research center in Uganda has this service, and  all hands are on deck to start a world class bone marrow transplant service , certainly they still stand tall in HIV care and research , for more visit

Sickle red blood cells being removed and replaced with normal red blood cells at Joint Clinical Research Centre , Kampala – Uganda.

Sickle cell disease has no cure , THAT IS WHY TESTING YOUR PARTNER’S SICKLE CELL STATUS IS  IMPORTANT , bold and underlined , the choice is yours.

Child Rehabilitation After Stroke

Children usually have a long life ahead of them , so the life long burden of stroke is greater for children than adults.

If the life expectancy is say 120 years , getting a stroke at 10 years means you will have to live with the effects of stroke for the next 110 years.

Therefore all child stroke survivors ought to be provided with fine rehabilitation , so that they optimally live. 

At , rehabilitation after stroke is something we are seriously interested in , visit our stroke rehabilitation blog any day , any time.

In essence , children and indeed all human beings have a brain , and can get stroke , timely identifying and treating stroke is all we can offer stroke victims , survivors are or at least should be eternally grateful , anyway it is worth it.

Children too can get stroke , by the way every adult or elderly person is still someone’s child!

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