You might have heard about stroke since it is an illness that attacks most adults. The bad news is that this illness can be deadly and thereby rob the life of your loved ones. Therefore, what is a stroke? A stroke is a brain injury that is caused by the interruption of blood flow to part of the brain. It can actually be caused by a blocked blood vessel or bleeding in the brain. Stroke caused by a blocked blood vessel is known as ischemic stroke.
On the other hand, a stroke that is caused by bleeding in the brain is known as a hemorrhagic stroke. Ideally, the brain requires typically a constant supply of oxygen that is usually carried by the blood. If the blood supply stops, the brain cells begin to die.
If asked, most people would say that stroke is a disease that only attacks adults. However, this is no longer the case, as this ailment also affects children. The good news is that children are likely to recover from stroke faster than adults. This is because a child’s brain is still developing. Stroke in children normally happens in the first month after birth. These are also known as perinatal or neonatal strokes. Most strokes in children usually occur during delivery or right after delivery when the baby does not get sufficient oxygen while traveling through the birth canal. Stroke can also affect older kids. This is usually caused by other conditions that stop the flow of blood to the brain.
What are the conditions that can increase your child’s chance of getting a stroke?
Sometimes, it is difficult to find the exact cause of stroke in children. However, stroke in adults can easily be caused due to high blood pressure, diabetes, or atherosclerosis. The following risk factors can make your child get stroke:
- Heart problem
- Sickle cell disease
- Infection such as encephalitis or meningitis
- Head injury
- Lack of oxygen during birth
- Some metabolic disorders
- Congenital disabilities
- Genetic conditions, such as Moyamoya. This disorder usually affects the arteries in the brain.
- Blood vessel abnormalities
- High blood pressure
What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?
It is worth noting that the signs of stroke in children are similar to those signs in adults. These include:
- Sudden weakness
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
Babies who have a perinatal stroke do not show any signs of it until months or years later. Sometimes, the child will develop normally but at a slower pace than other kids. There are also instances that these kids might use one hand more than the other. Children who have perinatal strokes that lead to more brain injury usually have seizures.
In most cases, children who have seizures usually have sudden paralysis or weakness on one side of the body. This often depends on the area of the brain that is affected and the amount of damage a stroke causes. In this case, you might notice that your child might start having issues with his concentration, memory, and even speech.
Can stroke be diagnosed?
Yes. Stroke in children can be diagnosed. You will realize that diagnosis usually begins with a review of your child’s current symptoms and health history. It is advisable that you take your child to a pediatric neurologists in Dubai so that he or she can perform this diagnosis. This professional will ask about injuries infections and even problems with the growth and development of your child. This expert can also ask you more about your family history’s bleeding problems. You can trust that this expert will look for signs of weakness, numbness, or other signs of a stroke. There are several tests that this professional can conduct when diagnosing your kid. These include:
- Brain imaging studies.
One test that can be conducted by a pediatric neurologist in Dubai is brain magnetic resonance imaging. This is a vital test for those children who are suffering from a stroke. If the MRI option is not available, your child can be subjected to Computed tomography scans. It is worth noting that magnetic resonance angiography can be done as part of the MRI. If your child has abnormalities of the brain blood vessels, the pediatric neurologist can also conduct Doppler or ultrasound of the brain.
- Heart and blood vessel studies.
Here, your child’s heart rhythm will be checked with an electrocardiogram (ECG). Sometimes, this expert can also conduct a specialized ultrasound of the heart in order to look for the possible causes of air embolism or blood clot in the heart. There are also other instances when your child can wear a special monitor that might be work in order to look for the heart rhythm abnormalities over a long period of time.
- Blood tests.
Your child’s blood can be tested for signs of infections such as sickle cell disease. This can help determine if your child has an inflammation of the blood vessels or blood clotting abnormalities.
- Lumbar puncture.
Your pediatric neurologist of choice can check for the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord for blood or signs of infection.
- Pulse oximetry.
This test helps to ensure that there is enough oxygen in your child’s blood.
- Electroencephalogram or EEG.
This test basically helps to look for seizures.
How is a stroke in children treated?
The treatment of stroke usually depends on the causes of the stroke. In this case, treatment can include:
- Supply of oxygen
- Blood transfusion
- Use of intravenous fluids in order to reduce or reverse dehydration.
It is important to note that most children usually recover after a stroke is treated. After the initial treatment, your child will receive physical, occupational, and rehabilitation therapy. Your child might also need help with learning, speech, vision, and even behavioral problems. A pediatric neurologist can be very helpful if your child has a stroke.