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My 3yo's temporary paralysis brought on by either stroke or seizure

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Has anyone been through anything even remotely like this? I am alternating between feeling at peace that we have an excellent neurologist on the case, and scared to death that my son was temporarily paralyzed two weeks ago and we still don't know why. I guess I'm looking for ideas, encouragement, anything!


In summary, here's what happened. It was three days before my little boy's 3rd birthday. My sister-in-law babysat him while I took two of our other kids out. He took his usual long afternoon nap. I got home and my SIL said he had been awake for about 30 minutes. She had fed him dinner. I saw him play and talk normally a couple minutes. He laid down on a pillow for a second, then stood up to walk to me. He kept falling over to the right. I stood him back up. He fell again. We wondered if his foot was asleep, so I decided to change his diaper and at the same time check him over for maybe a too-tight pantleg or anything unusual. As I lifted his legs to pull on the fresh diaper, his right leg flopped to the floor like dead weight. I tried his other arms and legs. The right arm did the same. In a matter of minutes, he became more and more floppy and leaning toward the right. I decided to rush him to the emergency room. As I carried him to the car, I noticed he was hard to hold onto, like an infant, because his torso was floppy and then his neck. I kept talking to him all the way to the hospital and encouraging him to respond. He did, and I could understand his words although he was beginning to act tired and his right eye started to squint.


My husband met me at the rural hospital, where our son flopped completely toward the right, slurred words and started drooling pools of saliva out his mouth as the doctor said he thought he was having a stroke. The right side of his body was paralyzed. I stayed back to talk to the doctor while my husband carried him down for a CT scan. As soon as my husband and the technician tried to hold him down for the scan, he kicked! With both legs! Slowly, he regained his feeling and movement on the right side. In all, he was totally paralyzed on the right side for about an hour, with about three hours of partial paralysis as he came in and out of the episode.


Although movement was returning, we were rushed by ambulance 2 hours away to a children's hospital. I heard the rural ER doctor call ahead and say he thought it was a TIA (mini-stroke). The ER doctor at the children's hospital had the CT scan read, it was normal, and she surmised that he had a seizure and an aftereffect called Todd's paralysis. There was no immediate danger, tests couldn't be run right away anyway and beds were full so we'd have to sleep in the ER, so we were offered the choice of being admitted or going home for outpatient treatment with our own neurologist. We went home.


Later in the week, after an EEG, our neurologist said he has abnormal, sharp brain waves on the left, but not the type that lead to seizures. (We adopted our son through foster care, he has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, mild cerebral palsy, PDD-NOS, cognitive challenge, microcephaly and some other pre-birth trauma that makes it no surprise that he'd have abnormal brain activity.) She said the other possibility was TIA (mini-stroke), but that she didn't know why a 3-year-old would have a stroke.


We are scheduled for a sedated MRI on April 4 to learn more, as well as bloodwork to determine how his body metabolizes energy to see if he's at risk of stroke. She put him on anti-seizure medication and wants to keep him on it for two years and then recheck. She's basically treating both the stroke and seizure possibilities aggressively as we try to figure this out.


She specifically said she doesn't think it's a tumor. I'm not sure how she'd know. Would the CT scan have told her that? Should I be worried that he has a tumor?


How do we get through the next week and a half until we have more answers?

post #2 of 6

Wow, that is certainly frightening!  I had never heard of Todd's paralysis so I looked it up, and I see it is associated with epilepsy, but your neurologist doesn't seem to think that was the cause.  I don't have anything to offer, other than I hope you get some answers soon.  Much love and peace to you in the meantime. hug2.gif

post #3 of 6
I wanted to chime in although my experience is with DH, not a child. He had a weird episode, later turned out to be a seizure the night we brought our first baby home from the hospital. It looked like sleepwalking, not convulsing, and brought on temporary memory loss and coordination/movement problems. I know temporary paralysis isnt the typical manifestation of a seizure but my husband's seizure was hugely atypical as well. The only reason his EEG showed abnormality is because he had a small episode while he was hooked up. I think there's a chance they didn't see seizure like activity with your DS simply because it had blown over by the time he was monitored. Did anyone explain the other abnormal brain activity as part of his FAS/PDD diagnosis? My DH didnt have a CT scan but his MRI revealed a lesion on his right temporal lobe. His neurologist said it probably wasn't a tumor but referred him to a top neurologist 2 hours away at a research hospital. This specialist took a look at his results, asked about his episodes and quickly and confidently identified the condition: right temporal lobe epilepsy due to a benign lesion. His symptoms are dictated by the location of the lesion and that's why they carry atypical symptoms. His prognosis is good, it's not a degenerative condition and has been easily managed with medication and getting plenty of sleep. I type all this to hopefully reassure you a little. I imagine the CT scan showed a shadow but it wasn't possible to definitively rule a tumor out. The MRI should show in greater detail any abnormal tissue, such as a lesion. If your neurologist is uncertain, I'd ask to get a second opinion with a leading neurologist at a top research facility who investigates unusual cases. All we consulted for was a diagnosis and given that, the local neurologist is overseeing DH's care without any issues. I know how scared I was when DH had his seizure and can only imagine how much more scary and heartbreaking it would be to see my child go through it. All I can offer is my thoughts and support. hug.gif I just wanted to chime in to say that unusual symptoms can still be a seizure manifestation and epilepsy can often be managed fairly readily. Also some things that show up on the scans are simply unusual and although they can cause issues, aren't malignant or degenerative. My DH didn't/doesn't have special needs, was a healthy term baby born of a healthy pregnancy but he still wound up with a troublesome lesion. The specialist said it's simply the way he was born. I think given all the alternatives, a similar diagnosis for your DS may almost be a relief: something that needs management but isn't life threatening and won't get worse as he grows. I hope you get reassuring answers soon. Not knowing is a scary place to be. I hope I don't sound like I'm trivializing your experience but reading your post put me in mind of that terrifying night in my own life and I wanted to offer hope in what limited way I can. You're in my thoughts and I hope you get reassuring answers soon hug.gif
post #4 of 6

Incompetentanthousewife, I am so sorry you ds is going through this hug.gif   My ds has epilepsy and also has Todd's paresis (paralysis) after some seizures, like generalized and some of the partial complex to a lesser degree.  He has it on his right side and has taken about 5 minutes to start coming out of it, but some the paralysis will last up to a few of hours.  It is terrifying to watch the seizure and then to not be able to talk or move body parts.  


Your description of the events sounds like a focal seizure where it started in a particular part of the brain.  The MRI will be likely look at the brain for abnormalities or scarring in addition to small tumors.  All of these can cause seizures, but do not necessarily.  Ds's epilepsy is idiopathic, so MRI/CT scan does not show anything. Both the CT and the MRI are ways of imaging the brain.  CT is like an xray and reveals different parts of the brain than the MRI, which uses magnets to develop the image.  Having both gives a more complete view because they are not looking at the brain in the same way.    It should also help decipher whether or not your ds is having/had a stroke or seizure http://www.epilepsy.com/pdfs/transcripts_seizures_strokes.pdf


EEGs do not always show seizure activity even if someone is having many seizures.  The only way to know, is if they have one while having the EEG.  Some seizure types have sharp waves.  Is your neurologist specialized in epilepsy?  We were told by the EEG tech that it is hard to read children's EEG's compared to adults.  You want someone who is specialized in pediatric epilepsy to read the EEG.  

post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for sharing these stories. It makes me feel better to know others have had similar situations and are working through it. OK, now I see that the MRI could give us some answers (or not). You helped me understand that better and know some possibilities. I was beginning to feel like I shouldn't let him out of my sight because anything could happen at any moment. I think I'm past that now though.
post #6 of 6

Wondering how your ds is doing?  Hoping his condition has improved and that the mri helped. 

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