Pediatric Stroke Program

A stroke program designed for children

Our program provides comprehensive evaluation and treatment for infants, children and teens who have had a stroke, or who are at risk for stroke. As the only dedicated program in Oregon, we offer world-class clinical care and give patients access to the latest research developments and the newest therapies.

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to an area of the brain is reduced or blocked. This can be due to a clot in one of the arteries that supply blood to the brain or if a blood vessel in the brain breaks or ruptures.

What are the risk factors for stroke in children?

In general, strokes are uncommon in children, but they do happen. Newborns are the most likely to have strokes. Older children with certain conditions are also more likely to have a stroke. These conditions include sickle cell disease and inherited blood clotting disorders, as well as structural differences in the brain or heart. Strokes can also be brought on by infections or trauma. Sometimes strokes happen when there are no obvious risk factors. 

What are the symptoms for stroke in children?

The faster a stroke patient gets treatment, the better the outcome. It is very important to react quickly to get medical attention if a child or adolescent has: 

  • A seizure followed by weakness on one side of the body
  • Weakness or numbness of arm, leg or face, usually only on one side
  • Headache that is much more severe than a child's usual headache, or that starts intensely and suddenly, like a "thunderclap"
  • Double vision or loss of ability to see off to one side
  • Sudden onset of dizziness, loss of balance, loss of coordination
  • Sudden onset of slurred speech or trouble speaking
  • Sudden trouble understanding language, confusion

Our team

Because stroke in children is very complex, the best care requires expertise from multiple medical areas working together. Our pediatric stroke team is led by doctors who specialize in the brain and blood diseases in children. The team also includes experts in diagnostic imaging and psychology, as well as physical, occupational and speech therapies. Our program has access to all the different specialists needed to provide coordinated care for short-term and long-term treatment. We also have a social worker on our team to assist families.

Why choose the Pediatric Stroke Program at OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital?

There are very few dedicated programs to pediatric stroke nationwide. At OHSU Doernbecher, we offer the only Pediatric Stroke Program in Oregon. After a stroke our goals include early diagnosis, intervention and starting rehabilitation. With the input of our specialist team, we develop individual treatment and follow-up plans for each child, with the goals of improving recovery, maximizing a child's ability to be successful and enjoy life after a stroke, and preventing future strokes.