Stories about: Dr. Michael Rivkin

Cadagan: Humor and tenacity after a stroke

Treatment for stroke has helped Cadagan thrive.

Most parents try to discourage their children from indulging in humor about bodily functions like burping. But for Daniel and Lori Hooley, a simple smirk in response to a belch was the sign they needed that their daughter, Cadagan, was going to be okay.

It was 2012 and 7-year-old Cadagan was asleep, tucked into bed for the night. Around 11 p.m., she suddenly awoke — but it wasn’t because of a nightmare or a late-night request for a glass of water. Instead, she seemed limp and couldn’t focus. Then she began throwing up. Born with an extremely rare genetic disorder called trisomy 12p, the little girl had already experienced her share of health challenges. But this was something different.

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From Buenos Aires to Boston for pediatric stroke care

Francisco visits with Dr. Rivkin for treatment of a pediatric stroke.

Twice a year, Osvaldo and Sol board a plane in Buenos Aires, Argentina. For a week or more, they leave behind their home, their friends, their jobs — and, sometimes, their two daughters, Ines and Clara. But what waits for them, a continent away, is worth it. In Boston, they say, they have found expert care for their son, Francisco.

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Jacob’s story: What it’s like to have a stroke as a kid

stroke recovery

My name is Jacob and I’m 8 years old. Two years ago, I had a stroke. At first, I didn’t realize what that meant, and I didn’t understand why I couldn’t move the way I used to.

With time, I’ve been able to get most of my function back, but my right arm has something called dystonia. That means the muscles cramp up and sometimes my arm moves on its own or gets stiff. I can’t control it, and that makes life hard sometimes.

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Doctor-patient friendship helps make an upside-down world right

pediatric strokeSeven-year-old Jacob Downing has a list of caregivers as long as his “different” right arm.

On top on the list is a be-spectacled, bow-tie-wearing neurologist. Dr. Michael Rivkin is co-director of the Boston Children’s Hospital Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center and the first person Jacob remembers seeing after the emergency surgery he underwent following a stroke.

Jacob doesn’t remember the surgery to clear the blood clot that caused his stroke. “Dr. [Darren] Orbach worked a miracle for him,” says Jacob’s mother Nichole. Orbach is the neurointerventionalist who performed the endovascular thrombectomy procedure to break up the blood clot that caused his stroke.

“Like a lot of doctors at Boston Children’s, Dr. Rivkin talks directly to Jacob. Jacob knows he is trying to help him, and it shows,” says his father Justin.

And Jacob has needed a lot of help in the aftermath of his stroke. Initially, he seemed to quickly regain some of his lost skills.

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