Courtesy of wxyz.com
CLEVELAND, Ohio (WXYZ) – When you’re 6-years-old and your right hand just stops working, you compensate.
“I noticed she had the pencil in her left hand and — knowing she’s not left handed — I said, ‘What are you doing?’ And I said, ‘Put the pencil in your right hand.’ And she told me she couldn’t,” said Leann Wilcox describing the moment she knew something was wrong with her daughter.
“When I handed her the pencil, she grasped it like this,” she added, making a fist. “And when she went to write, it took her entire arm to make her hand move,” added Wilcox.
Her perfectly healthy first grade daughter Erica described the discomfort as ‘fizziness’ in her right hand, but by the end of the day she couldn’t write or even get dressed.
“Dan took her to the emergency room and gave me a call that they were going to admit her,” said Wilcox.
Initially, Erica was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but after more testing it was determined that she had a stroke due to a rare brain disease called Moyamoya.
“The fundamental problem with Moyamoya is an inadequate blood supply to the brain, so surgically we need to improve the blood supply to the brain,” said Dr. Peter Rasmussen of the Cleveland Clinic .
Patients with Moyamoya will have additional strokes or brain hemorages as the disease progresses, so a pair of surgeries — one for each side of her brain — was Erica’s only option.
“Predominately the method used in children is called an EDAMS operation. There’s a large chewing muscle that’s present on the side of our head, and we free up that chewing muscle…and just lay that muscle on the surface of the brain,” said Dr. Rasmussen.
The brain signals the muscle to create new arteries. Erica’s brain gets the blood it needs, and the risk of stroke diminishes.
“About two weeks post the second surgery, she came to us and said Mommy, the tingling is gone and she’s favoring the right hand again.”
Just over a month after her last surgery, Erica is back to her old self. She’s still working on gaining strength in her right hand, but once fall comes around, she’ll be allowed to play outside and participate in gym class again.
Dr. Rasmussen says if your child’s arm or leg is not working properly, parents should consider it an emergency and take their child to the Emergency Room. If it is a stroke, it should be treated very early on.