Ballerina suffers stroke at age 20: ‘I love dancing and I don’t want to stop’ – 10/16/2022

Ballerina Mariana Marques, 21, suffered a stroke a few days before her birthday. She was performing at a dance show and, when she left the stage, she felt a tug on one side of her body and did not respond to the stimuli of her colleagues.

When she arrived at the hospital, doctors said she had suffered from the ischemic type. Immediately, the young woman underwent a technique that reverses the condition in fewer days than conventional therapies. Specialists believed that she would stay in the hospital for six months, but thanks to the procedure and quick care, she stayed only six days, was discharged and today she is slowly trying to resume her routine as a dancer. Below, she tells her story:

“I started dancing at the age of two and graduated in ballet, jazz, tap dancing and contemporary dance. I took the test at the Municipal Theater in Rio de Janeiro and stayed there for four years. I taught tap dancing and started contemporary dance.

That was my routine and day to day. I remember that in February of this year I was performing at a contemporary dance show. When I went to the aisle, which is offstage, I was feeling like I was pulling down on my right side.

My friend told me I was laughing, my hand started to bend inwards and I couldn’t speak anymore. The teacher called my mother and at the time she said: ‘Hospital now’.

My father took me by car and we made a trip in 15 minutes. I arrived at the hospital, but I don’t remember anything.

Ischemic stroke at age 20

Ballerina Mariana Marques suffers a stroke at age 20 - Personal archive - Personal archive
Image: Personal archive

When I was admitted to the hospital, I had an MRI, a CT scan and they told my mother that I had had a stroke. My dad was pretty shaken up and kind of floored.

I was told that many people came to visit me at the hospital, but I don’t remember anything. The stroke was on Sunday and I didn’t wake up until Monday. The nurse asked me if I was okay and apparently I was calm but I couldn’t move my arm to eat.

She left the food and left. But I didn’t raise my hand anymore and when she came back, she noticed and gave it to me in her mouth.

The doctor went to the ICU and asked how I was. I had surgery where I had a mechanical thrombectomy, and they said that maybe I would have to stay in the hospital for four to six months.

They put a catheter that came from my groin to my head and I remember having a very big bandage. Gradually, they took off, but I remember having a huge ‘hole’.

The physical therapist went there, lifted my arm, my leg and I responded very quickly. I started forward, but I still couldn’t speak. On Friday it was my birthday, they gave me a cake and I left the hospital on Saturday.

The doctor said that my recovery was a miracle and there was no reason to stay there. He even told my parents that he wasn’t going to lock me up in the hospital anymore and that I needed to have a normal life.

Back to routine

Ballerina Mariana Marques suffers a stroke at age 20 - Personal archive - Personal archive
Image: Personal archive

I remember that when I was already out of the hospital, the neurologist looked at my exams and I kind of missed an area of ​​my brain, it didn’t show up in the images. She couldn’t believe how fine I was.

When I got out of the doctor, I started doing speech therapy every day. My cousin took care of me and continued to exercise. She could understand the words and I was finding a way to speak better. I used to do hydrotherapy and I continue with this practice to this day. I also do physical therapy, pilates and continue doing ballet, jazz and tap dancing.

My coordination was a little weak and I had trouble standing on my toes. Over time, I started to regain my movements and a month ago I felt the leg that was affected by the stroke.

Sometimes I can’t feel the correct movement while dancing, but my friend said that contemporary dance is inside me and that I will have it with me forever. But ballet movements, like putting the right and left leg back and doing a spin, I still have difficulty.

As I love to dance, I don’t want to stop and slowly follow the movements. The doctor said I can do everything anyway. The only thing is, I can’t get too stressed and go through situations that trigger more reactions. To this day, no one knows what caused my stroke, even though I was very young.

Ballerina Mariana Marques suffers a stroke at age 20 - Personal archive - Personal archive
Image: Personal archive

I’m progressing very well, I still want to teach adult ballet and also focus on occupational therapy as an undergraduate. I want to help people who have had a stroke, just like me, to regain movement and be independent.”

What is a Stroke?

Stroke (stroke) is a sudden change that can be of two types:

– ischemic: when it clogs an artery that carries blood to the brain and in that region where the vessel was clogged, there is a lack of blood in the organ. The patient may have symptoms depending on the affected region.

– hemorrhagic: when a blood vessel ruptures and blood spreads inside the brain.

Stroke can occur at any age, even in children, but it is more common in older people, especially those over 60 years of age.

What is mechanical thrombectomy?

It is a treatment by catheterization, in which an artery is pushed from the groin to the clogged artery and with a catheter a device is taken to unblock the cerebral circulation. This material can also be a stent that opens into the clot, causing it to be pulled out.

It can also be through a vacuum that sucks the clot, causing it to leave the bloodstream. Used since 2015, the technique is indicated for patients who have a more severe stroke and when drug treatment does not work as well.

Currently, medications for stroke sufferers are intravenous and try to dissolve clogged vessels. They usually need to be used within four hours of the onset of symptoms. With the technique, it is possible to use up to 24 hours later.

The treatment is available in the SUS (Unified Health System).

Source: Sheila Martinsneurologist and president-elect of the World Stroke Organization, an international organization that seeks to reduce the global impact of stroke, and of the Brasil AVC Network.

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