When 8-year-old Jack was invited to throw the first pitch at a Colorado Rockies baseball game, he was thrilled. Standing before thousands of cheering fans, he took a deep breath and drilled the ball directly over home plate. It was a near perfect pitch.
This accomplishment would be impressive for any 8-year-old. But for Jack, who suffered a sizeable stroke as a newborn and seizures as a child, this milestone was nothing short of monumental. This day was the result of a lifetime of intensive therapy, hard work and courage.
A Frightening Beginning
Everything seemed normal when Jack was born in 2004 at University of Colorado Hospital. But within hours of his birth, Jack stopped breathing. He was immediately transferred to the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). Three days later, Jack appeared to be having a seizure. A follow up CT scan indicated that Jack had suffered a significant stroke.
Pediatric strokes are rare, affecting only about four out of every 100,000 children each year. Like in Jack’s case, the cause of the stroke is unclear in the majority of children they affect.
NICU providers referred Jack to Children’s Hospital Colorado, where he started receiving intensive therapy. Using an integrated team-based approach, doctors developed a multi-disciplinary treatment plan to help him recover.
Multi-disciplinary care is a hallmark approach of Children’s Colorado and one of many ways that the hospital helps to maximize the potential of patients like Jack. By bringing together providers from across various specialties, patients experience better-coordinated treatment and outcomes.
By the time he was 1 month old, Jack had begun a vigorous rehabilitation program with weekly physical therapy at Children’s Colorado. At 6 months, occupational therapy was incorporated into his treatment. By 12 months old, Jack had begun crawling. While this critical developmental milestone is standard for most babies, it is often skipped by pediatric stroke patients, so Jack’s parents were elated.
Courage Despite Setbacks
Yet just seven months later, at 19 months old, Jack was hospitalized in the Children’s Colorado Pediatric Intensive Care Unit following a seizure.
While this was a frightening setback, Jack soon began receiving care through the Stroke Program in the Children’s Colorado Neurosciences Institute. Doctors in the Neurosciences Institute pride themselves on getting to know each patient as a whole child and developing a comprehensive treatment plan for the entire family.
For Jack, that meant scheduling regular visits with specialists across a wide range of departments including Neurology, Rehabilitation Medicine, Orthopedics, Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy. With the help of his comprehensive treatment plan, Jack continued to make significant progress. When he was just 3 years old, he began playing organized sports with kids his own age.
Now 10 years old, Jack continues to triumph over developmental milestones. Although his appointments are less frequent, he still receives treatment at Children’s Colorado for mild seizure disorder. He is in third grade and performing at or above his grade level. He’s also a talented athlete who plays basketball, soccer and baseball. Coaches describe Jack as a player with “true grit.” Following a lifetime of outstanding family-centered care, Jack has achieved things that seemed nearly impossible a decade ago.
“While there will always be little problems that surface as he grows and develops, Jack has made huge accomplishments,” said his mom, Lara. “The caregivers at Children’s Colorado continue to provide us with the tools we need.”