Strokes are the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States, and they can happen to anyone. A common misconception is that strokes only affect adults; in fact, children can also have them. Even those who are physically healthy can suddenly experience the symptoms of a stroke. However, up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable!
One of the best tools in combating strokes is raising awareness.
May is Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month. Several groups around the nation are taking this opportunity to promote ways to prevent strokes. One of the biggest campaigns for Pediatric Stroke Awareness Month is being led by CHASA (Children’s Hemiplegia and Stroke Association). Every year they encourage people to “streak” for Pediatric Stroke Awareness. A “streak” means doing something several times throughout the month to raise awareness. For example, you can read a book to your child every day, because children with strokes often struggle to read. You can run a mile every day, to raise awareness for how strokes make it difficult to walk. You can even dye a purple “streak” into your hair as a conversation starter about pediatric strokes. “If these little stroke survivors can do some of the hard things they do every single day of their lives, then we can do something to honor them.”
Basically, CHASA encourages people to take part in simple tasks that we take for granted, and use them as an opportunity to educate people around them about the realities of pediatric strokes.
Nancy is a mother whose son Robbie had a stroke while he was just an infant. A few years ago, Nancy streaked for Pediatric Awareness Month by posting a blog every day in May about her son’s disabilities. There are dozens of ways you can “streak” for Pediatric Awareness Month, so get creative and make a difference!
Strokes mostly afflict adults, so the signs are usually missed in children and teens. It’s important to know the signs so that you’re prepared. The easiest way is to remember the acronym F.A.S.T., which stands for Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911. If your child exhibits any of these signs, it’s worth it to call 911 (or the emergency number in your country). When children have strokes, they also tend to show signs of numbness on one side of the body, sudden confusion or difficulty speaking.
It’s not an easy subject to talk about, but raising awareness of pediatric strokes can reduce the negative effects that they have when they go unnoticed. The easiest way you can “streak” for pediatric awareness month is by wearing purple, and talking to people about what it represents!
Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.