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Health Team

Parents told son would have no personality, imagination after perinatal stroke

Posted September 28

— The Triangle Heart Walk on Sunday in Raleigh will focus on raising money and awareness in the fight against heart attacks and strokes- two of the top killers in the United States.

Stroke is typically something associated with older adults, but children are considered to be at higher risk just before birth and until their first birthday.

Perinatal stroke occurs in 1 out of 2,000 births in the United States, and a Durham boy and his parents were one of those affected.

At Morrisville Community CrossFit Gym, 6-year-old Mason Armada doesn’t seem like a child who suffered a stroke before he was born.

His parents, gym owners Jonathan and Stacy Armada, remember the early signs. He held his left arm close to his chest, and his left toes stayed pointed down.

“We just thought, ‘He’s a baby, it will go away,’” Jonathan Armada said.

Symptoms still remained by time Mason was 6 months old.

“Then we were really like, ‘Something is wrong here. We need to figure something out,’” Jonathan Armada said.

Mason saw a neurologist, who ordered a CT scan, which confirmed he had suffered a stroke in his right frontal lobe.

The scan also showed that Mason has Andermann Syndrome, where the tissue connecting the left and right halves of the brain is malformed or missing.

The prognosis was not good. Doctors told the Armadas that their son would have no personality or imagination.

They pursued an aggressive schedule of occupational, physical and speech therapies for Mason, and for several years, he has been a part of his parents’ CrossFit Kids exercise program.

Mason still has challenges with fine motor skills, like picking up small objects. The right brain, left brain issue also affects his running.

“He kind of skips, but you can just tell that one side is trying to catch up to the other side,” Jonathan Armada said.

Therapies, plus regular exercise, have helped Mason beat the odds.

“Not only is he becoming stronger physically, but mentally, he’s building up confidence, and that’s what we want to encourage him to be- mentally and physically strong,” Stacy Armada said.

Mason will get to ride in the Pace Car at the start of the Heart Walk Sunday afternoon.

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