Children's Hospital Colorado

Stroke in Children

What is a stroke?

There are two major types of strokes:

  • Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by bleeding in or around the brain.
  • Ischemic strokes are caused by lack of blood flow, oxygen and/or or nutrients to the brain, often triggered by a clot.

What causes a stroke?

In children, strokes can be caused by abnormalities in blood vessels in the brain or neck, excess clotting, sickle cell disease and certain heart or metabolic conditions. Often, however, the cause of strokes in children remains unclear.

Who can have a stroke?

Only about 2-6 out of every 100,000 children in the U.S. will suffer a stroke each year. Strokes in children occur less commonly than in adults, but the consequences can be equally devastating.

Because a stroke is a rare disorder in children, optimal stroke care for them requires expertise from a variety of pediatric medical specialties, including hematology, neurology, radiology, rehabilitation, neurosurgery, neuropsychology, cardiology and other areas.

What types of strokes are treated at Children's Hospital Colorado?

  • Arterial ischemic strokes
  • Hemorrhagic strokes
  • Recurrent transient ischemic attack
  • Moyamoya syndrome/disease
  • Neonatal hemorrhagic strokes
  • Cerebral Sinovenous Thrombosis (CSVT): venous stroke, secondary to a clot in one of the major veins in the head
  • Thrombophilia: a condition of increased risk for developing blood clots in the veins or arteries due to increased blood clotting

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?

Signs and symptoms of a stroke in children can include:

  • Seizure 
  • One-sided weakness or numbness 
  • Facial droop
  • Slurred speech 
  • Sudden change in vision
  • Difficulties with walking, balance or coordination 
  • Unexplained change in level of consciousness

What tests are used to diagnose a stroke?

The following diagnostic services are used at Children's Colorado after a stroke:

Our other stroke services include:

  • Preventive medicine
  • Local and international research
  • Clinical trials

The Stroke Program at Children's Colorado

Our Colorado Stroke Program combines the expertise of Children's Colorado and the University of Colorado Denver Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center to treat pediatric patients who have suffered a stroke, or children who may be at risk for stroke due to other medical conditions. The program, established in 2006, provides a variety of services for pediatric stroke patients and their families in a comprehensive setting.

Why choose our Stroke Program?

The multidisciplinary stroke team at Children's Colorado is focused solely on treating infants, children and teens who have suffered a pediatric stroke. Our pediatric stroke doctors have devoted their careers to caring for children who experience a stroke and strive to provide the best possible outcomes for their patients.

Our multidisciplinary stroke clinics provide access to dedicated stroke providers in multiple specialties, including: neurology, hematology, rehabilitation, radiology, neurosurgery, neuropsychology, social work and research. In addition, these providers have extensive experience with children with stroke, and access to the most up-to-date advances in the stroke field through participation in local, national and international childhood stroke research.

Our unique stroke alert system ensures that one of our stroke team members is available 24/7 to consult on stroke cases. In addition, our in-hospital alert system quickly brings doctors and nurses throughout our hospital together and to our stroke patients.

Clinics within our Stroke Program

The Children's Colorado Stroke Program has several comprehensive care clinics, each occurring on a monthly or bi-monthly basis:

  • Arterial Ischemic Stroke (AIS) Clinic
  • Hemorrhagic Stroke Clinic
  • Cerebral Sinovenous Thrombosis (CSVT) Clinic
  • Presumed Perinatal Stroke Clinic

Arterial Ischemic Strokes (AIS) Clinic

The AIS Clinic was established in 2003 for the evaluation and care of neonates and children who have suffered a stroke due to inadequate blood flow to the brain. This clinic also sees children who have had episodes of transient ischemic attack, "TIA" or "mini-stroke." Currently, there are more than 100 AIS patients in the Rocky Mountain region who are treated and followed through this clinic.

The AIS Clinic incorporates the disciplines of neurology, hematology, rehabilitation, neuropsychology and radiology, with the additional involvement of neurosurgery, rheumatology and cardiology when appropriate.

This team thoroughly defines stroke risk factors for patients to facilitate the best decision-making for immediate and long-term medical care. We provide safe and effective treatment plans for our patients to help prevent future strokes.

In addition, we provide extensive education about childhood AIS to our families, access to support groups, as well as the ability to participate in multiple research projects dedicated to enhancing our understanding of childhood stroke.

Hemorrhagic Stroke Clinic

The Hemorrhagic Stroke Clinic focuses on the evaluation and long-term care of children who have suffered bleeding that affects their central nervous system function, and children with and without known underlying bleeding disorders.

Cerebral Sinovenous Thrombosis (CSVT) Clinic

The CSVT Clinic has evolved out of the long-standing Thrombosis Clinics at Children's Colorado, in order to provide devoted and coordinated neurological, hematological and ophthalmological care for children who have suffered blood clots in the brain. 

Presumed Perinatal Stroke Clinic

The Presumed Perinatal Stroke Clinic provides consultation and risk factor evaluation and counseling for those children with presumed in-utero/newborn stroke that is diagnosed later in life.

Getting ready for your appointment


If your child is affected by pediatric stroke, please call 303-724-0724 for further information. Referrals to the Children's Colorado Stroke Program clinics can be made either by physician referral or self-referral. Please contact your insurance provider to obtain prior authorization as needed.

Medical records

We request that you send us a copy of your child's pertinent medical records prior to the visit for us to review, unless they were obtained at Children's Colorado.

Pertinent medical records include:

  • Notes from any previous inpatient or outpatient evaluation for stroke
  • Imaging studies (CT, CTA, MRI, MRA or conventional angiography). If a CT or MRI was obtained, please send us a copy of the radiology report as well as a copy of the imaging on a CD.
  • Laboratory studies including coagulation studies
  • Electrocardiogram (EKG), echocardiogram and/or cardiology evaluation

Please mail these records to:

University of Colorado Hemophilia and Thrombosis Center
Attn: Elizabeth Gibson, PA-C
13199 East Montview Boulevard, Suite #100
Aurora, Colorado 80045

Research for a better tomorrow

The Stroke Program at Children's Colorado is a contributing member of the International Pediatric Stroke Study, an international group dedicated to research in childhood strokes. Our team also receives funding from the National Institute of Health and the Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute that is dedicated to searching for the appropriate treatments for childhood strokes.

In addition, we are part of ongoing research efforts in the following areas:

  • Coagulation markers as predictors of outcomes in childhood strokes
  • Lipoprotein(a) as a risk factor for childhood AIS
  • Maternal and fetal risk factors in neonatal strokes
  • Relationships between stroke risk factors, treatments and outcomes.
  • Multiple International Pediatric Stroke studies, including:
    • Vascular Effects of Infection in Pediatric Stroke
    • Seizures in Pediatric Stroke
    • Thrombolysis in Pediatric Stroke
    • Anticoagulation in Neonatal CSVT

Read more about research at the Neuroscience Institute.