Jonathan Dienst didn’t believe his 7-year-old could have a stroke, but more than a year of rehabilitation and expert opinion has certainly changed his mind. Son Jared was struck with a still-mysterious blood clot in the brain in June 2008, and he went undiagnosed for hours. Though Deinst writes that stroke is by some estimates the sixth leading cause of death in infants and children, doctors—like parents—often don’t even consider it.
“Slurred speech, droopy left eye, stiffness, a sudden inability to walk:” those were Dienst’s son’s symptoms when his mother brought him to the hospital, he writes in the New York Times. “If an adult had come into an emergency room with similar symptoms, the staff might have quickly picked up these classic signs of stroke.” But that wasn’t the case. Though Jared’s rehab was tough—Dienst recalls him crying when he realized he couldn’t throw a ball—he is well on the way to an almost total recovery. (Read more stroke stories.)