Hawkeye Kid Captain: Maddie Strauss from Dubuque - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Hawkeye Kid Captain: Maddie Strauss from Dubuque

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) -- A nine-year old Dubuque girl who survived tearing in her carotid arteries has been selected as the "Kid Captain" when the Hawkeyes host Penn State on Saturday night.

When Maddie Strauss got sick in April 2009, her parents, Lori and Bill, thought it was just a virus. But, when after a week, Maddie was having headaches, weakness in her arms and legs, and speech difficulties, her parents brought her to University of Iowa Children's Hospital.

That's when tests revealed that she had tearing in both carotid arteries, interrupting the flow of oxygen-rich blood to her brain.

Maddie, who was then eight-years old, had suffered a severe stroke, affecting both sides of her brain.

Maddie was sent to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, and the next several days proved to be critical, as she continued to have swelling in her brain.

After some debate, her medical team opted not to perform surgery, but instead decided that treatment and close monitoring posed fewer risks. That decision paid off, as her swelling finally subsided.

After several more days of improvement, she was transferred to the pediatric inpatient unit for continued observation.

After nearly two weeks at UI Children's Hospital, Maddie left to begin inpatient rehabilitation therapy.

With ongoing physical and occupational therapy back in Dubuque, and follow-up care at UI Children's Hospital, Maddie continues to make great strides.

Her parents say that Maddie approaches each day with determination and enthusiasm.

"I still remember the time when she came home and said, ‘Hey Dad, check it out—I can tie my shoe!'" Bill says. "The level of pride she had on her face was really something."

"She can ride her bike now, which is really great for her," Lori adds. "She's so proud of that."

The family hopes Maddie's story helps inform others about children and stroke. "It's not common, but it does happen, and it's often missed," Lori says. "We want to make people aware so they can get the medical help they need, and quickly. ‘Time is brain' when it comes to treating stroke."

"Being a Kid Captain means that there's a benefit from a stroke—that they think my story is important to tell the world," says Maddie, an active fourth-grader. "And to tell people who think that strokes don't happen to kids that they do."

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