Young stroke patient, Major Hudlin, poses for a photo.Major Hudlin is a vibrant, active 7-year-old boy who loves to make TikTok videos and play outside with his siblings. So when his grandmother picked him up from daycare one day and realized that he was not lifting his right arm or moving the fingers on that hand, she became alarmed.

Major has a chronic health condition, sickle cell disease, so his family wanted to have him examined immediately. His mother took him to the emergency department of the community hospital near their home in Wharton, Texas. Upon his arrival, the medical staff quickly arranged to have him taken to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston for further testing.

“He was flown via helicopter to Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital that same day – everything happened so quickly,” said Major’s mom, Kenisha Aldridge. “I drove there and met my son at the hospital.”

Sickle cell disease is an inherited blood disorder, where the patient’s red blood cells can become sickle-shaped (crescent shaped) and have difficulty passing through small blood vessels. Stroke is a common complication of sickle cell disease and can affect both children and adults. Major was diagnosed with a stroke when he arrived at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. He remained there for one week before being transferred to TIRR Memorial Hermann to begin rehabilitation in their new pediatric inpatient unit.

“Major originally came to us with a pretty significant right-sided hemiparesis,” said Dr. Stacey Hall, clinical assistant professor of pediatric rehabilitation medicine at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) and TIRR Memorial Hermann affiliated pediatric physical medicine and rehabilitation physician. “I had anticipated that he would be at TIRR Memorial Hermann for 3-4 weeks, but he quickly exceeded my expectations.”

Because his stroke mainly affected his right arm and leg, his therapy team worked to get him back to being able to do the things the active little boy enjoyed.

“We worked on his balance, lower extremity strength and endurance, all while playing games within a story Major would create for us,” said his physical therapist Amelie Bordelon. “We climbed to the top of ‘stairwell mountains’ and drove scooter board ‘race cars’ through obstacle courses. He was such a hard worker and his recovery is a testament to that.”

In addition, Major’s speech and swallowing were affected by his stroke.

“Major was admitted to TIRR Memorial Hermann on a modified diet and supplemental intake via feeding tube due to swallowing difficulties,” said his speech therapist Sabrina Casso Filoteo. “However, following hard work and active engagement during our sessions, Major advanced to a regular diet and his feeding tube was removed. Major also faced challenges with his verbal communication so we implemented melodic intonation, pacing strategies (either by tapping or using a metronome) and syllable segmentation that allowed him to gain better control of his speech patterns. Our favorite book was ‘If You Give a Pig a Pancake’. We created our own similar story related to Major's stay at TIRR Memorial Hermann. He loved it and would always ask me ‘Remember our story?’ Rapport between clinician and patient is vital for maximal benefits from treatment. ”

After two weeks in inpatient care, Major was discharged home and would continue with outpatient therapy.

“He was walking community distances by himself, navigating stairs and using his right hand readily,” said Dr. Hall. “He truly did amazing.”

“Major loved every one of his caregivers at TIRR Memorial Hermann,” said Kenisha. “He still talks about them! His strength improved and he is back at school, and back to playing with his siblings and making TicTok videos!”

US News and World Report Best Hospitals Badge
Nationally Ranked Rehabilitation

For the 34th consecutive year, TIRR Memorial Hermann is recognized as the best rehabilitation hospital in Texas and No. 4 in the nation according to U.S. News and World Report's "Best Rehabilitation Hospitals" in America.

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