Awareness, early intervention key in childhood stroke
by Susan O’Neill
SUGAR GROVEâ€”Sugar Grove third-graders Alex and Amanda Malawski threw out the first pitch at the Schaumburg Flyers baseball game on Thursday, Aug. 13, as a part of a Strike out for Stroke event. The activity was a fundraiser and awareness event connected with the Alexian Brothers Hospital’s support group for stroke supporters.
Alex and Amanda, born 11 weeks premature, both suffered strokes when they were born. Due to the strokes, each has a mild case of cerebral palsy. Alex’s muscles on his left side were affected, as were Amanda’s muscles on her left side.
â€œThey’ve been in therapy since they were born,â€ said Lori, their mom.
Lori said she joined a support group for parents dealing with childhood stroke when she found out about it from a flyer on a doctor’s office desk. The group, Childhood Stroke and Hemiplegia Connections of Illinois, has been a tremendous help to her.
Lori said that although some parents are afraid to find out what might be wrong with their child, the biggest thing that she and her husband have learned in speaking with other parents is the importance of early intervention.
She said some parents are afraid to find out what might be wrong with their child.
Her husband went to Washington, D.C. in 2006 to lobby Congress and to Springfield this year regarding raising the awareness of childhood strokes and the importance of hospital guidelines for what signs to look for to recognize a stroke in a child.
Lori said that Kaneland John Shields Elementary School has been wonderful in working with her to obtain what she needs for her children, but that other people might not be that lucky.
She encourages parents to join a support group, because it is easy to feel lost when they encounter this problem.
â€œPeople are not alone,â€ she said. â€œMy husband and I feel seasoned in all of this. You need to ask for what you need for your kids.â€
Through the Fox Valley Special Education Program and the Kaneland School District, Alex and Amanda are involved in a number of physical activities that have also helped them, including as Sunshine through Golf, a tennis camp, a swimming team and adaptive sports, such as water skiing.
They both got the ball across the plate, Lori said of the baseball event. Alex’ pitch was very dramatic, as he began with a big wind-up.
â€œIt was really exciting and nervous,â€ Amanda said. â€œMy whole family was there cheering for me.â€
â€œShe’s very competitive,â€ Lori said of Amanda. â€œShe won’t let this get in her way.â€
Photo: Alex and Amanda Malawski of Sugar Grove, accompanied by pitcher, Carmen Pignatiello of the Schaumburg Flyers, threw out ceremonail first pitches before the game on Aug. 13 at Alexian Field. Photo by Mike Slodki
Risk factors for pediatric stroke include:
â€¢ Sickle-cell disease
â€¢ Congenital or acquired heart disease
â€¢ Head and neck infections
â€¢ Head trauma
â€¢ Maternal history of infertility
â€¢ Maternal preeclampsia
For more information about pediatric strokes and support groups, visit www.csnconnections.org