First-grader survives stroke - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

First-grader survives stroke

Did you know that stroke is one of the top 10 killers of children?

Meet an Ohio first-grader who survived a stroke and is overcoming the rare disease that caused it. 

Perfectly healthy first-grader Erica Wilcox says it all started with a ‘fizziness' in her right hand, but by the end of the day she couldn't write or even get dressed.

Erica's mother, Leann Wilcox, says, "I noticed she had the pencil in her left hand and knowing she's not left-handed, I said, 'What are you doing? Put the pencil in your right hand,' and she told me she couldn't. And when I handed her the pencil, she grasped it like this and when she went to write, it took her entire arm to make her hand move. Dan took her to the emergency room and gave me a call that they were going to admit her."

Initially, Erica was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but after more testing it was determined that she had a stroke due to a rare brain disease called Moyamoya.

Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Peter Rasmussen says, "The fundamental problem with Moyamoya is an inadequate blood supply to the brain, so surgically we need to improve the blood supply to the brain."

Patients with Moyamoya will have additional strokes or brain hemorrhages as the disease progresses, so a pair of surgeries, one for each side of her brain, was Erica's only option.

"Predominately the method used in children is called an EDAMS operation. There's a large chewing muscle that's present on the side of our head and we free up that chewing muscle and just lay that muscle on the surface of the brain," says Dr. Rasmussen.

The brain signals the muscle to create new arteries. Erica's brain gets the blood it needs and the risk of stroke diminishes.

"About two weeks past the second surgery, she came to us and said, 'Mommy, the tingling is gone,' and she's favoring the right hand again," says Wilcox.

Just over a month after her last surgery, Erica is back to her old self. She's still working on gaining strength in her right hand, but soon she'll be allowed to play outside and participate in gym class again.

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