Brain Injury Awareness Month: Stroke can happen at any age - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/28/10

"Brain Injury Awareness Month" reminds that stroke can happen at any age

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By Kristin Beerman | email

Edited by Jon Bush | email 

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Most people assume stroke victims are older, but in fact, a quarter of all stroke victims are under the age of 65.  Matthew Leyva Wishnak was practicing with teammates on his wrestling team when he suffered a stroke.

"Everything turned sideways and then back up and then sideways, I got this profound vertigo, I was totally off balance, I started vomiting convulsively," said Mathew Leyva Wishnak, a stroke survivor.

"I was completely surprised. When I think of strokes, I think of elderly people having strokes, not a 16-year-old boy," said Debra Layva, whose teenage son had a stroke.

But that's what the MRI showed and Mathew is not alone. The Stroke Association says strokes affect as many as 10,000 kids in the U.S. every year. 

"The majority of children having stroke are actually just previously healthy children who don't have any sort of underlying risk factor like that," said Heather Fullerton, M.D., a pediatric neurologist.

Dr. Fullerton says most child stroke patients survive, but not without intense rehabilitation.  Like Mathew, who survived, but had to relearn how to walk.  Now, two years later, he is competing in triathlons.  March is "Brain Injury Awareness Month" and Mathew's story is one that doctors hope will increase awareness that children do have strokes, but early detection and treatment can be the key to a full recovery.

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