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May 27, 2014
Ind. boy, 7, recovering from stroke
SPENCER, Ind. — When Kim Paquette saw her 7-year-old son, Kale, rush into her bedroom banging the right side of his head with his hand and saying, “It hurts,” she immediately wondered if he was having a stroke.
As the youngster collapsed onto her bed, her suspicions were strengthened when she saw that his eyes were glazed over, his face was drooping on one side, his speech was slurred and his limbs were limp.
“You never think of your child having a stroke,” she said. “The day before, he was running around at baseball practice. The day it happened, he’d been playing outside with his sister. It came out of nowhere.”
Only about six in 100,000 children suffer strokes, according to the National Stroke Association.
Kim sent her 6-year-old daughter to a neighbor’s house for help, then dialed 911 for an ambulance.
Kale was whisked away from the family’s Spencer home to IU Health Bloomington Hospital, where he was stabilized before being taken by helicopter to the Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health.
With Kim’s blessing, doctors there gave Kale a clot-busting drug called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), which, if administered within three hours of a stroke’s onset, can reduce the likelihood of death or permanent brain damage. The drug can break up the blood clots that cause 80 percent of all strokes by quickly dissolving them and restoring normal blood flow to the brain. But tPA also can cause bleeding in the brain. The protocols at IU Health Bloomington Hospital call for giving tPA only to patients 18 and older.
“The doctors said the risks were not as high for a child because the drug is given in a smaller amount, so I said, ‘Please give him the drug,’” Kim said. “He got it a half-hour before the three-hour window closed.”
The next day, a series of tests found that Kale’s stroke had been caused by “moyamoya syndrome,” a disease in which certain arteries in the brain progressively narrow, reducing the flow of blood to the brain. The disorder, which is believed to be hereditary, mainly affects children.
On May 3, six days after Kale’s stroke, doctors removed the right part of his skull to make room for his rapidly swelling brain. On May 11, he was taken off a ventilator and moved out of the pediatric intensive care unit.
“That day was a milestone,” Kim said. “He woke up and waved to us. But he wasn’t able to talk or move his left side much.”
Over the past two weeks, Kale has been undergoing speech, physical and occupational therapy at Riley — and is showing some measure of improvement.
“He understands what we’re saying, and he’s able to whisper a few words,” Kim said. “He said ‘blanket’ because he was cold, and he said ‘phone’ because he wanted to play a game on my Android phone. But there’s not a lot of movement on his left side.”
Kale will undergo two surgeries — on the right side of his brain June 18 and the left side of his brain July 2 — designed to trigger the growth of new blood vessels to restore a sufficient amount of blood flow to the brain, and lessen the risk of suffering another stroke.
“Our doctor was shocked he had a stroke without any warning signs,” said Christopher Paquette, Kale’s father. “Normally there are some signs, like headaches or the loss of motor skills on one side of their body.”
Christopher said it’s hard watching his son struggle to talk and move his limbs, but said he and Kim remain hopeful.