Therapy assists young stroke survivors

Calgary Herald

Fifteen-year-old adrenalin-junkie Alana Ramsay loves downhill ski racing and mountain biking.

But for years, it was the simple task of doing up buttons with her right hand that proved more challenging.

Alana's right side was affected by a stroke at birth.

This summer, the teenager became one of 64 youths involved in a Calgary study testing a new treatment for children affected by perinatal strokes. After two weeks of intensive therapy, Alana can now fasten buttons, pick up pennies and grasp thin objects, using her right hand.

"What it means to me is the world. Just having my right hand, being able to use it again, it's a lot better," said Alana.

The three-year, $250,000 study is being led by Dr. Adam Kirton, director of the Calgary Pediatric Stroke Program at Alberta Children's Hospital.

It involves patients between the ages of six and 18 who were affected by strokes around the time of birth. Each youth is involved for six months, including a two-week camp at the children's hospital where the participants undergo intensive therapy. Part of the therapy includes transcranial magnetic stimulation, which is used to map, and later, help treat the brain.

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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.