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Infant Stroke

Reardon, Joanne

doi: 10.1097/01.NNN.0000333831.19107.22
Department: Letter

Our seven-year-old daughter suffered a stroke in utero. We have used and continue to seek every imaginable stimulus to help her. She has right-sided weakness, lost her “speech center,” and has right hemanopsia (blindness in half her visual field). Yet, she is amazing. As a baby, she never crawled. She would scoot on her bottom in an upright position to move from one place to another. She cried and cried through physical therapy. We convinced her rehab doc to prescribe “music therapy” in conjunction with her physical therapy. The music therapist would come and play guitar and bring huge drums for her to stand at and play during therapy. The improvement was amazing. We taught her “baby signs” as an infant when words were too difficult for her; they came later and are in abundance today.

The most remarkable part of her story (so far!) is that of her first steps. Jamie is the fifth of our six children. Our four older children all learned violin using the Suzuki method (by listening and much repetition). She has been surrounded by their music since before birth. Each summer, we take the family to a meeting of Suzuki players. Jamie's second year of participating was the summer she was two and not yet walking unassisted. The children sat in a circle each day. The teacher asked each child to stand and to make his/her way around the circle to music in any fashion they chose (walk, trot, skip, bounce, etc). When it was Jamie's turn, we held our breath. The teacher called her name. Jamie said, “Me march!” She stood up (alone, first time ever) and proceeded to march around that circle to the music her teacher played. We were filled with such joy! We stood there crying as she marched around that circle, head held high. When she got back to her spot, she just fell to a sitting position (plopped down, really) and sat there like she'd been marching her whole life. It was a moment I will never, ever forget. Today, she's trying to learn violin as well. It's difficult for her as she has little use of her right hand and wrist. But every time the bow scratches across the strings I imagine new neural pathways forming in her beautiful brain.

My hope is that someday your colleagues will put more time into studying these childhood/infant stroke victims. They are so full of potential and promise.

—Joanne Reardon

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