by: Michelle Ballasiotes I'm a stroke survivor, but I'm only 13 years-old. My stroke happened before birth, so I've been a stroke survivor all my life! A blood vessel burst on the left side of my brain but we still don't know why. There wasn't much information on babies and strokes when I was born, so no one knew if I would talk, walk, develop normally or need years of treatment. I was diagnosed at birth, so I was able to start PT and OT very early. I went to these therapies almost every week for over ten years! I have also had Botox shots, 2 surgeries and had to wear plastic braces on my right leg. Since I only have one fully functional hand, I have had to come up with creative ways to do every day tasks that most people take for granted. Things like zip, button, tie shoes and carry books. The good news is that all that therapy paid off. I can run and play some sports, although I'm slower and my style is different. The best sport for me is swimming because it helps strengthen my whole body and when I'm in the water, I can actually forget that my right side isn't working as well. I've been speaking out about pediatric stroke since I was 8. My hope is that by raising awareness, it will lead to research to better diagnose and treat babies and children and find the causes for strokes in babies.
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