Pediatric stroke, also known as cerebral-vascular accident, is among the top 10 causes of death in children, occurring in approximately 2.5-3.2 children per 100,000 annually. Early recognition of signs and symptoms and comprehensive follow-up care is vital to achieving positive long-term outcomes, said Le Bonheur pediatric stroke nurse practitioner Tracy Tidwell.Mother with sick child

“Pediatric stroke is more common than most realize and promoting awareness is essential for successful treatment in the pediatric population,” Tidwell said. “The more the medical community and families advocate for awareness we will see an increase in early diagnoses and better outcomes.”

Tidwell shared a few common signs that your child may have suffered from a stroke:

  • Speech Impairment: slurred or garbled speech, inability to speak (partially/fully)
  • Weakness of one side of body (face, arm, leg): your child can’t smile on one side or they are unable to lift one arm or leg
  • Impaired movement: unsteady walking
  • Vision impairment: double vision or loss of vision on one side.
  • Altered mental status: you child appears to be less alert or drowsy with other neurologic abnormalities, such as headache, nausea and vomiting
  • New onset focal seizures: a seizure that affects one side of the body

If you suspect your child has had a stroke, Tidwell said to lie him or her flat and do not give food or drink and immediately contact your child’s pediatrician. Children who have a stroke typically recover more abilities than adults. 

Le Bonheur’s Pediatric Stroke Clinic is the only program in the region to provide comprehensive, coordinated and multidisciplinary care for pediatric stroke patients. The hospital’s comprehensive clinic provides coordinated follow-up care with multiple specialists for pediatric stroke patients. The goal is to help patients achieve the best long-term outcomes. Since 2016, the stroke center has diagnosed more than 30 new patients who suffered from a stroke.