Cierra Foxx first noticed something was wrong while waiting at the bus stop, when her right arm and right leg both went to sleep. By midnight, she was limping. Her grandmother asked her what was wrong, also noticing that she was "talking funny." Her grandmother called 911. Cierra was taken by ambulance to the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. She had suffered a stroke. She was only 17 years old.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, childhood stroke occurs with an annual incidence of 2.5 cases per 100,000, cutting across all racial and ethnic groups.
"At first I didn't think I had suffered a stroke because I was in denial. I thought this was something temporary and that once I get out of the hospital, I will be the young athletic person that I was," Cierra says.
After a week at the University of Maryland Medical Center, Cierra was transferred to Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital, to begin the long process of rehabilitation.
"Initially after the stroke, Cierra was unable to use the right side of her body - unable to write, dress herself and walk," says Long Clark, Senior Occupational Therapist at Mt. Washington Pediatric Hospital. "Her condition was one that would make anyone have compassion for her."
During that period, Cierra received intensive inpatient therapy six times a week. Her therapy often consisted of various splints, electrical stimulation, rigorous exercise, high endurance activities, and small manipulations to enhance the dexterity of her right hand. Despite her obstacles, she continued to be dedicated to getting better and stronger every day, Clark says.
Cierra continues her therapy here on an outpatient basis, and is one of our most dedicated and inspiring patients.
"If anyone needs someone to look up to, it's Cierra," Clark says. Kathy Gray, an Occupational Therapist, and Clinical Specialist in Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) at Mt. Washington, agrees. "She is an amazing young woman who can accomplish anything she puts her mind to."
Gray also worked with Cierra to find a driving rehabilitation course, because one of her goals was to drive, and gain more independence. She passed the course with flying colors. Cierra is letting nothing get in her way.
"Overall, I feel like there is nothing I can't accomplish once I set my mind to do it," Cierra says. "Mt. Washington is my savior and that goes for everyone who has helped me along the way because some days I needed that extra push from people saying 'I Can Do It'. I'm very optimistic about my future because I didn't allow myself to fail and give up."
She's really persevered through her disability," says Dr. Stephen Nichols, a Physiatrist in Mt. Washington's Rehabilitative Services Department. "I admire her determination to get stronger and become more independent. Cierra has a bright future."
In fact, Cierra, is enrolled at Towson University and at last check, planned to start her own business helping others with medical conditions, so that they too can accomplish their goals.