Pediatric Stroke Center
The Children's Mercy Comprehensive Stroke Center is the only pediatric stroke center in the region. In addition, our multidisciplinary stroke clinic is one of just ten in the nation. The center is prepared to respond quickly to any child who comes in with stroke symptoms.
Symptoms in children are different than symptoms in adults, and Children’s Mercy emergency room physicians are specially trained to spot the warning signs in a child and activate our stroke protocol immediately. Our transport team can rapidly bring a child with stroke symptoms to the downtown Children’s Mercy campus from anywhere in the area.
A stroke is a medical emergency. If you think your child is having a stroke, call 9-1-1. See more information below about pediatric stroke symptoms.
Pediatric stroke risk factors
Strokes in children are as common as brain tumors, with about 11 out of every 100,000 children experiencing a stroke each year. They are one of the top 10 causes of death in children.
At Children’s Mercy, we treat as many as 100 children experiencing stroke each year. We are actively working to increase awareness among emergency departments and first responders about the symptoms of stroke in children.
Congenital heart disease and sickle cell anemia are two common risk factors for pediatric stroke. But stroke can happen in otherwise healthy children as well.
The most common type of pediatric stroke is a perinatal stroke, which can happen anytime between 28 weeks gestation (before a baby is born) to 28 days after birth. This type of stroke often leads to cerebral palsy or other developmental complications.
Strokes can happen at any age. However, many advances in diagnosis and treatment provide hope for families whose children are affected by stroke.
Stroke care at Children’s Mercy—what to expect
Our stroke team is on call 24/7. If doctors suspect a stroke, your child will immediately receive an MRI to scan their brain. A pediatric neurologist will be at the bedside to analyze the scan right away.
In order to get an accurate picture of the brain, your child may need to be asleep during the MRI to help remain still. A pediatric anesthesiologist is always available at Children’s Mercy to help your child through this part of the MRI.
The pediatric stroke team includes specialists from several departments at Children’s Mercy. Because a stroke affects the brain, your care team will include providers who understand what’s happening in your child’s brain and how to address those issues. Team members include staff from neurology, neurosurgery, neuroradiology, anesthesiology, and the pediatric intensive care unit.
The team is led by Dr. Marcie Files, a pediatric neurologist who trained specifically in pediatric stroke treatment. Dr. Sathya Vadivelu brings the expertise of our Rehabilitation Medicine team to children recovering from a stroke.