16 Years Later – A Story of Hope

Braden - pediatric stroke survivor

Braden Kara was born by C-section after a long non productive labor.  Her apgar scores were both 9 and looking back, the only indication that something may not have been “normal” was a lazy looking left eye.  We started to notice that at about 4-5 months old that she wasn’t grabbing for things with her left hand, or crossing mid-line to her left side.  When she was just starting to sit up with support on her back she would always fall to the left.  If you talked to her she would look at you with a head tilt and turn her head to the left also.  I didn’t mention these things to the doctor because I didn’t want him to say, “Oh, it’s developmental or you are a first time mom and just keep an eye on her.”

My mother in law, who is a physical therapy assistant, came over one Sunday and I shared some of this same information with her.  I noticed she ran her fingernail up Braden’s foot and then didn’t say anything more.  The very next day, she came over and gave us information about getting some developmental testing.

At 7 months old, Braden Kara was tested through First Steps in Central Kentucky. She was diagnosed with a developmental delay and we were given the name of a Pediatric Neurologist in Lexington. She started physical therapy and occupational therapy immediately. We eventually got an appointment and had an EEG as well as a MRI/CT scan.  At about 10 months old, we found out the results.  The Neurologist told us that our daughter had an injury in the right side of her brain from a pre-natal stroke.  The left side of her body was affected (left hemiparesis) and also that she was blind in the left side of EACH eye.  We were told that she would have spatial issues, some vision trouble, possible seizures and maybe difficulty reading or learning.

Pediatric stroke survivor runningBraden Kara continued with physical and occupational therapies and her goal was to walk by 18 months.  I’m happy to say that she walked at 13 months and crawled at 14 months.  She learned very early to compensate to accomplish mostly whatever she wanted.  She started playing soccer in Kindergarten and has continued to play to this day.  She has also gotten involved with track in high school.  She’s tried a few different sports, even if it was something that other people would cross off the list because of her left sided weakness.  She’s not made those teams, but at least she tried.  She’s gotten involved with drama through church and now the high school drama department.

Now having her permit for driving we are finding some issues with steering and turn signals, but nothing that a knob and signal adapter can’t fix.  We’ve dealt with some learning issues and ADHD (attention deficient hyperactivity disorder) and seizures as she’s gotten older.  We’ve been very fortunate that we haven’t had many medicine issues. She’s had an eye muscle surgery and wore glasses for several years but has had contacts for the past year and a half.  She adjusted well to them and has been able to take them in and out on her own after a few weeks of practice.  She’s very determined and generally has a pretty good attitude.  We’ve tried hard to never treat her as if something was “wrong” with her or treat her gingerly (especially as she was starting to walk or try sports).  She’s dealt with the feeling of being inferior to others her age because she feels “different” from them, no matter what we say.  We are so proud of Braden Kara and look forward to what the future holds.