Girl who had a stroke aged 13 had to learn to walk again
Tala Olins-Miller was just 13 when she suffered a life-threatening medical episode normally associated with much older people.
The physiotherapist, now 22, was paddle boarding after a training session at her surf club when she had a stroke.
“It felt like I was falling asleep,” the Perth woman told nine.com.au.
“Lucky I fell on my board instead of in the water. The next thing I remember, I’d been pulled out by one of the lifesavers.”
Olins-Miller was taken to what is now Perth Children’s Hospital for emergency treatment.
“They thought I must have got hit by the board in the wave,” she said.
“My whole right side was affected. I couldn’t walk or really move my right arm.
“It was quite scary. I was lying down and they were like ‘Can you bend your palm towards your shoulder?’ I was trying but it was not moving.”
However after initial investigations, doctors sent her home, saying she was simply badly concussed.
But she was so sick, her mother took her back to hospital two days later - and scans showed she’d actually suffered a type of stroke.
“I was in a lot of shock,” she said. “I couldn’t comprehend it because it does have that stigma of affecting old people. It can affect anyone.”
Doctors couldn’t explain why she’d had the stroke, and it was the start of a long recovery.
Olines-Miller had to learn to walk again, and was in hospital for three weeks.
And while she has made a full recovery, if she gets overtired her right side still get weak and develops a tremor.
However, Olines-Miller, who completed a sponsored Run for a Reason in Perth at the weekend for the Stroke Foundation, considers herself lucky.
She wants to raise awareness of strokes in children, and help people learn how to spot them.
“There are still a lot people who get lifelong impairments in children, as well as strokes in general,” she said. “That early diagnosis is what we’re aiming for.”
Around 500 strokes are suffered by Australian children each year, with the condition one of the top ten causes of death in children.
Half will suffer a long-term impairment.
Meanwhile, overall, strokes kill more women than breast cancer and more men than prostate cancer
The Stroke Foundation is pushing for more research into childhood strokes.
Stroke Foundation Acting Chief Executive Officer Toni Aslett, told nine.com.au: “There is a common myth that stroke only happens to people later in life, but it does not discriminate. It can strike adults, teenagers, children and even babies.
“More research is needed into childhood stroke. Evidence-based research will help us improve our health system and social care services to support young stroke survivors and their families to live well after stroke.”
The FAST test is an easy way to recognise and remember the signs of stroke: Face – Check their face. Has their mouth drooped? Arms – Can they lift both arms? Speech – Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you? Time – Time is critical.
If you see any of these signs, call 000.
Email journalist Sarah Swain: [email protected]
© Nine Digital Pty Ltd 2019