On June 2, Nicole Cavall and her seven-year-old son Stephen began their day with a soccer game.
It was during a break when Stephen went from being a picture of health to someone who needed to be rushed to the hospital.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Stephen was sitting on his mom’s lap when all of a sudden, he just laid on the ground, unable to communicate what he was feeling.
As Cavall explained, when the seven-year-old attempted to stand up, he just collapsed right in front of her:
“He laid down in front of me. He fell over, basically. I thought he was playing around. I told him, ‘You have to sit up and watch your teammates.’”
Physically, Stephen couldn’t do what was asked of him. As Cavall told the Cleveland Clinic, all her son could do was “mumble and clutch at his face.”
Terrified and unsure of what was happening to her son, Cavall scooped him up off the ground and took him to the Cleveland Clinic Union Hospital, which was just two blocks away.
A CT scan and an MRI revealed that Stephen had a pediatric stroke. More specifically, an acute ischemic stroke.
Watch Cavall and Stephen describe what the day of his stroke was like below:
I haven’t shared this with many people that aren’t in my immediate friends and family circle. Most people are unaware of childhood strokes but they do happen. On June 2nd Stephen suffered a stroke. This video was put together by the American Heart Association to raise awareness about pediatric strokes. Please watch and share! #heartwalk
Posted by Nicole Cavall on Saturday, September 22, 2018
As the Cleveland Clinic reports, the MRI showed that one of the main cerebral arteries in his brain was completed blocked:
With no sign of trauma or tearing of the vessel, Dr. Friedman says it is possible Stephen’s blockage, or focal vasculopathy, may have been the result of a prior viral infection.
However, because Stephen wasn’t treated until about eight hours after the onset of the stroke, he couldn’t receive the drug known as the “clot-busting drug.”
It was then that he was air-lifted to Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital where a team of interventional neurosurgeons was waiting for him to perform emergency surgery.
The surgery performed on Stephen by Dr. Mark Bain, M.D. is rarely ever done to children. Thankfully, it was successful.
Following the procedure, Stephen was able to regain his ability to speak throughout his recovery. Cavall said:
“We kept seeing improvement, by the hour. By the next day, he was playing video games and drawing on whiteboard walls with dry erase markers.”
“I was able to meet with the surgeon and the doctors and the told me we were very fortunate and that I should celebrate another first birthday for him.”
According to the Cleveland Clinic, Stephen was released from the hospital less than a week later and was back to being a regular kid again, attending a science camp just days after.
Stephen does sometimes experience a brief lapse in memory, but other than that his mom says her son hasn’t changed a bit:
“Other than wearing a medical alert bracelet, and taking a children’s aspirin once a day, he’s back to normal. And happy.”
As Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) reports:
Pediatric stroke affects 25 in 100,000 newborns and 12 in 100,000 children under 18 years of age. Stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in children.
Recognition of stroke is often delayed or even missed in most children. Many children with stroke syndromes are misdiagnosed with more common conditions that mimic strokes, such as migraines, epilepsy or viral illnesses. Early recognition and treatment during the first hours and days after a stroke are critical in optimizing long-term functional outcomes and minimizing recurrence risk.
If you ever discover a child having a stroke, you should “dial 911 or go to your nearest hospital’s Emergency Department, have your child lie flat, and do not give your child anything to eat or drink.”