Stories about: Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center

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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