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Did you know that children can also suffer from stroke?

Pediatric stroke ranges from 1.2 to 13 cases per 100,000 among children below 18 years of age.

Written by Debjani Arora |Published : March 15, 2018 8:57 PM IST

Stroke is considered rare among the pediatric age group, it is common in children below three and is rarely seen anywhere else in the world. A unique reason for children suffering from stroke is trauma or a minor injury caused by, say, a fall. Reported incidence of pediatric stroke ranges from 1.2 to 13 cases per 100,000 children under 18 years of age. Children usually recover better from strokes than adults do because their brains are still growing. However, children can experience permanent complications from stroke, such as seizures, weakness, and vision problems.

According to World Health Organisation (WHO) stroke is caused by the interruption of blood supply to the brain. This usually occurs because a blood vessel bursts or is blocked by a clot, as this cuts off the supply of oxygen and nutrients, causing damage to the brain tissue. The two main types of stroke are ischemic (due to lack of blood flow) and hemorrhagic (due to bleeding). Both lead to impaired functioning of the affected area of the brain i.e a stroke.

The first four hours, considered 'golden' for best treatment outcome, of suffering a stroke. Stroke in pediatric age group is not as common as in adults. Bhopal residents, Yasha Dave and Amit Dave had a normal child, Purvasha Dave, with no history of distress before, during or after birth. But, they started noticing delayed milestones after 3rd month along with recurring fever. They consulted many doctors and Purvasha underwent a battery of tests, however she was never diagnosed with any abnormality. At 11 months of age she suddenly fell down and suffered a stroke. She was diagnosed with cerebral infarct, which means that there was a clot in her brain that led to left sided paralysis.

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Although routine physiotherapy helped improve her muscle function; two months prior to her 2nd birthday, Purvasha sustained yet another fall from her bed and fell on her head. This time she was completely bed ridden and was hospitalized immediately. She has been on regular physiotherapy for 3 hours every day ever since. Some improvement was noticed in her overall condition, however, Purvasha failed to recover completely.

Cellular therapy has been shown to reduce the size of infarcts and improve functional outcomes in victims with cerebral infarcts. Over a period of 20 days Purvasha went through 2 sessions of cell based therapy at StemRx Bioscience Solutions Pvt. Ltd. She is also under intensive rehabilitation programme comprising of physiotherapy and allied therapeutic modalities.

Initially grasping objects was possible only with her right hand, though her grasp was not strong. Mild intellectual disability was noticed. Slow learning and similar writing speed was observed. Muscle wasting was noticed in lower limbs making it difficult for her to stand as she would lose balance. Purvasha also found it difficult to sit for long periods of time. Post-therapy Purvasha is now able to stand with support of splint without buckling of knees. Improvement in hand grasp is noticed. Post cell-based therapy she is now able to speak 5-6 sentences clearly at a time and does not stammer much. Reduced spasticity and improved muscle strength is also noticed.

'New treatment strategies focus on neuroregenerative appproaches, among which the appplication of progenitor cells from bone marrow/adipose tissue has gained increasing attention. These cells have the capacity of self-renewal giving rise to differentiated cells from various lineages. Recovery after cellular therapy occurs through angiogenesis, neurogenesis, and synaptic plasticity. Cellular therapy has shown to reduce the size of infarcts and improve functional outcomes in stroke victims,' said Dr Pradeep Mahajan, Regenerative medicine Researcher.

This article was contributed by Dr Pradeep Mahajan, Regenerative medicine Researcher.

Image source: Shutterstock

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