Boy, 7, Recovers After Suffering Stroke

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True

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Kids don't have strokes -- at least, that's what the parents of one 7-year-old boy thought until their son collapsed on a New York City playground.

Jared Dienst was playing when he complained of a headache. His mother, Victoria, thought first of dehydration, but then she watched as her son struggled to walk and his eyes rolled back in his head. His mom carried her son to the nearest emergency room -- Weill Cornell -- where doctors first diagnosed a seizure.

However, as Jared continued to struggle with motor functions and slurred speech, the medical staff ordered more tests: CT scans and MRIs were given as his parents waited anxiously for some definitive diagnosis. It wasn't until many hours later that the Dienst family got the devastating news that their son had suffered a stroke.

"The doctor told us that Jared's stroke was small but serious and that he had been put on an anticoagulant to prevent another stroke. He was in for a lot of tests and, as we would soon learn, a long road ahead," Jonathan Dienst, a reporter for WNBC in New York City, writes in a personal account of his son's stroke and its aftermath published in The New York Times.Indeed, the road has been long. Jared has been through hours of occupational and physical therapy in the 18 months since his stroke, while doctors tried to help him "rewire" his brain and regain mental and physical skills. Today, Jared is a healthy and active 9-year-old, and while he is still unable to participate in some activities, both he and his family are grateful that he has recovered so remarkably well.

While doctors never determined what caused Jared's stroke, they warn that the condition is more common than parents might think. According to the Times, stroke is the sixth leading cause of death in infants and children, and experts contend that medical professionals need to be more aggressive in diagnosing -- and treating -- pediatric strokes.

Jared, however, is one of the lucky ones. In an interview with NBC's "Today" show, the family says that it's just in the last six months that they have been able to breathe a little easier.

"At the one-year mark we got clearance that he could go back and do some sports and some swimming and some of those kinds of things," Victoria Dienst says.

Related: Stroke: Prevention

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.