Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke Center
Patient Stories | Logan and Pediatric Stroke

Logan Learns to Communicate After Stroke

Shea worried her son, Logan, would never be able to communicate with her. He’d suffered two strokes—one on each side of his brain—just a few weeks after he was born, leading to significant injury at a critical period of brain development. 

For months afterward—and despite their best efforts to amuse him—Shea, her husband, Kenneth, and their daughter, Kendra, could never get Logan to smile. 

That changed one day when he was 6 months old.    

“Logan was at daycare, and they sent me a picture where he had the biggest smile on his face,” Shea said. “Logan [now 10 years old] hasn’t stopped smiling since.”

Logan’s smile made Shea realize she’d be able to have a give-and-take relationship with her son, and she knew it was thanks to Logan’s care team at Cincinnati Children’s.

A Long Road Ahead

Logan was born in May 2014. “He was your typical newborn,” Shea said. “He had no issues whatsoever.” 

About three weeks later, though, Logan let out a horrible scream. “It wasn’t a typical cry from a baby,” Shea said, “and I just knew something wasn’t right.”

While Shea was on the phone with the pediatrician a few minutes later, Logan let out another cry. Shea recalled, “The pediatrician said, ‘Stop what you’re doing, get him in the car and get him to Cincinnati Children’s.’”

At the hospital, Shea and Kenneth learned Logan had a blood clot in his brain that had caused him to have seizures and a stroke. Sudhakar Vadivelu, DO, a neurosurgeon in the Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery and director of the Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke Center, immediately took Logan into surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain. 

“Dr. Vadivelu saved him that night,” Shea said. “He will always be our hero. We knew we had a long road ahead of us after that, but we thought we were in the clear.”

Two nights later, though, Logan had another stroke—this time on the opposite side of his brain. Once again, Dr. Vadivelu performed surgery to relieve the pressure.

Logan’s neurologist, J. Michael Taylor, MD, a pediatric stroke and neurocritical care specialist in the Division of Neurology, said Logan was “trying really hard to die on us those first few days.” 

Logan stayed in the hospital for nearly six weeks, undergoing another surgery to have a shunt placed in his brain. The shunt served to drain cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), which had built up and caused a condition called hydrocephalus. Logan also had to come back to the hospital a few months later to have the shunt repaired. 

“The neurosurgery department at Cincinnati Children’s is just unbelievable,” Shea said. “They all stay on top of what’s going on with every single patient, and they have a lot of patients.”

Overcoming Roadblocks, Controlling Seizures Better

Still, once the surgeries ended, the focus of Logan’s care turned to managing his seizures and cerebral palsy symptoms—both side effects of his brain injury. Due to their severity, the seizures typically resulted in three- to five-night hospital stays.

“Logan has had a really long and bumpy journey,” Dr. Taylor said. “He’s had challenges in a few areas,” including mastering the coordination needed to walk independently and learning the complex movements required for speech and language.

“Logan’s injury happened at the time of brain development,” Dr. Vadivelu said. “He’s fighting through it, and his brain is trying to figure out ways to get around it, but it’s hard to relearn or redevelop abilities he’s never had in the first place.”

As Logan has grown, his seizures have become better controlled by increasingly lower doses of medicine. They’ve also become significantly less frequent.

Logan receives physical and occupational therapy services at the Perlman Center at Cincinnati Children’s, which helps children and adults with cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular and physically limiting conditions. And he receives services from a variety of other specialists. In addition to Drs. Taylor and Vadivelu, his care team includes Jilda Vargus-Adams, MD, a rehabilitation doctor; James McCarthy, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon; Paul Willging, MD, an ear, nose and throat (ENT) surgeon; and Melissa Rice, OD, an optometrist. 

Logan also has received rehab services from Nathan Evanson, MD, PhD, attending physician in the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine.

“A Happy Boy”

Over time, Logan learned how to walk, mostly on his own. Also, although he’s technically nonverbal and uses a device to communicate, he’s learned to say a few words.

It’s his smile, though, that people notice first about Logan, Shea said.

“Everyone’s drawn to him,” she said. “He’s a sweet, sweet kid who loves life and smiles 100% of the time. You can be having a bad day and see his face, and it no longer matters—you just automatically smile. He makes you want to be around him.”

Logan’s smile is one of his most beautiful features, Dr. Taylor said, adding, “He keeps making progress. He’s always going to need his family near him and people who care for him to help him. But he’s a happy boy and always smiling, so his quality of life is no less for that. He’s thrilled with every day, and his parents love him. They’ve done everything they could to bring him along, and he’s thriving.”

Dr. Vadivelu said: “Logan kind of turns his head, raises an eyebrow and focuses one eye on you. He wants to know what your reaction’s going to be. He has a mind. He has an attitude. He has feelings. He’s developed a way to communicate. That makes a huge difference for his future.”

(Published July 2024)

Giving Back to Cincinnati Children's

Creating a Lasting Legacy

Two years ago, Shea joined Cincinnati Children’s Family Advisory Council, a group that gives patients’ families an active role in the hospital’s decision-making process. After that, Shea and Kenneth decided to include Cincinnati Children’s in their estate planning, creating a lasting legacy of helping all kids reach their full potential. 

“My husband and I just have such an appreciation for the hospital and what it does for so many families like ours,” Shea said. “We are convinced our son would not be here today without them.” 

A few months ago, Dr. Vadivelu reached out to Shea to see if she would join a new family advisory council he was forming at the hospital that would be dedicated to the Cerebrovascular Disease and Stroke Center. 

“To me, it was a no-brainer,” Shea said. “I’m so glad Dr. Vadivelu decided to form this council because having input from families who have been through such a life-changing experience can only help the team become better.”