Science Fair Project Helps Fourth Grade Girl Save Her Grandpa From A Stroke

Emergency
Getting a stroke victim immediate medical attention can save their life. Alexander Kesselaar CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

A 10-year-old girl saved her grandfather’s life after noticing that he was having a stroke — a subject she had recently explored for a science project.

“My other grandpa had a stroke and during that stroke I’m like, ‘Well it’d be interesting to find out why strokes happen and what causes them,’” Sophia Tabors told KMOV St. Louis.

Tabors won a second-place ribbon for her science fair entry on stroke research, but her knowledge came to be critical two months later, when her other grandfather had a stroke. “He dropped a bag of apples,” Sophia said. “He was staring at it and I was trying to ask him if he was okay. … He was saying something but I didn’t get it and his face was droopy on one side.”

The girl was the first one to notice her grandfather was having the stroke, and told her mother to call 911. Dr. Amer Alshekhlee recognizes the 10-year-old for saving her grandpa’s life. “I have no doubt she saved a lot of his functions and probably his life too,” Alshekhlee said.

Tabors’ grandfather is now in recovery, thanks to her quick thinking and recognizing his symptoms.

What Is A Stroke, And How Do I Recognize One?

Stroke, a leading cause of death in the U.S., is a serious condition that requires emergency care.

There are two types of strokes. The first, more common type of stroke is called an ischemic stroke. This type of stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood going to a portion of the brain is blocked. Blood clots in the brain are a common cause of these, as they block brain cells from getting oxygen, causing them to die. The second type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when an artery in the brain ruptures or leaks blood. The pressure from the blood can damage brain cells. Hemorrhagic strokes are often preceded by high blood pressure or an aneurysm.

When brain cells die or get damaged, portions of the body that are controlled by the brain are affected. Common symptoms of stroke include sudden weakness; paralysis or numbness in the arms, legs, or face; trouble understanding speech or speaking; and problems with seeing. Strokes have the potential to cause long-term consequences such as disability, brain damage, or death.

The American Stroke Association (ASA) recommends using the mnemonic "F.A.S.T." to remember the sudden signs of stroke. F.A.S.T. stands for face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty, and time to call 911. The ASA advises bystanders to call if a person has any of these symptoms, even if they go away.

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