Cerebrovascular disease is a group of conditions that can lead to a cerebrovascular (brain and blood vessel) event, such as a stroke.
A stroke is an unexpected interruption of blood flow to the brain which can affect how you move, talk, and think. The underlying causes of stroke in children are different from those in adults. In children, strokes are more often due to blood clotting problems, congenital heart disease, infections or other long term conditions like Sickle Cell Disease. The underlying causes of stroke in children are different from those in adults.
These conditions have multiple causes, including deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a deep vein, usually in a leg) and atherosclerosis (when dangerous plaque builds up in the arteries and causes a blockage).
Treatment for stroke in children can be quite complex and it is critical that patients be managed and treated in a center of excellence with extensive cerebrovascular and stroke experience.
The Center for Cerebrovascular Disorders in Children at Children’s Health offers children and parents a collaborative group of experts that comprehensively diagnose and treat your child’s cerebrovascular condition, including stroke. We are among the very best in the region at performing the most advanced procedures and therapies for the treatment of pediatric cerebrovascular disease. Each of our primary team members works solely in the pediatric setting with a clinical interest in disorders of cerebrovascular system.
The Center is the only one of its kind in Texas, and our Comprehensive Stroke Program brings together a multidisciplinary team dedicated to providing timely, personalized care to children suffering from a stroke or other cerebrovascular disorders. We treat and care for children of all ages and see every stage of stroke, from acute care in the emergency department through long-term follow-up care and rehabilitation. The Stroke team includes specialized experts in pediatric neurology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology, interventional radiology, hematology, neuropsychology, physical and occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and physical medicine and rehabilitation.
Many signs that would automatically make a doctor think of stroke in an adult can go unrecognized as the signs of stroke in a child.
How can you tell if your child is having a stroke?
Common warning signs include:
There is an acronym that can help people recognize and respond to the signs of stroke. It’s called FAST, and it can apply as much to your child as to an adult:
Quick action can spare your child from suffering a significant, permanent disability. It can even save your child’s life. It is important that your child be treated by a team that is specialized in the management of stroke in the pediatric population.
If your doctor suspects your child has a stroke the doctor will do a complete exam of your child and one or more of the following tests:
Treatment varies based on the onset of stroke, time of presentation, severity, location and symptoms. Our team offers a comprehensive approach with multiple possible treatments, interventions or combination of treatments. These can include, but are not limited to, medical management, interventional radiographic techniques such as thrombectomy or thrombolysis, and in severe cases an operation to alleviate pressure on the brain due to swelling.
Almost all children that present to the hospital with a stroke will require observation in the Intensive Care Unit for close monitoring and evaluation. The duration of hospitalization is patient dependent and our team of specialists will collaborate to determine an individualized treatment plan for the care of your child.
There are a number of causes of stroke and they are very different in children than in adults. Your child will be evaluated by our pediatric hematologists to determine if they have any blood clotting disorders that could predispose your child to the risks of future strokes. Stroke can also be caused by trauma to the arteries in the head and neck and there are many times that a clear cause of the stroke is not identified in children.
Treatment can vary from child to child and our team of specialists will collaborate to determine an individualized approach to the treatment and care of your child. We offer resources that will span the initial phase of stroke as well as long term care including follow-up in our comprehensive stroke clinic and therapies to help your child recover.