Get our newsletters

Quakertown 3-year-old recognized as Stroke Hero


Twenty-three out of 1,000 births. That is the number of infants who experience perinatal strokes, which can drastically change their and their families’ lives.
A perinatal stroke occurs when an infant experiences a stroke during the third trimester of gestation or about 30 days after postpartum. While there are many types of perinatal strokes, the three most common are those that block blood flow to the brain, those that hinder the central nervous system through thrombosis, and those that are diagnosed but do not have any specific effects.
Infants can experience this condition as a result of birth trauma, even after a normal pregnancy. Quakertown’s Michael Keeble, now 3 years old, was one such infant.
Michael’s mother, Jennifer Keeble, said that while her pregnancy with Michael was normal, he had a traumatic delivery, which may have led to his perinatal stroke.
Within several hours of his birth, Michael was experiencing seizures and was then emergency-transported to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for treatment and diagnosis. Michael was in the NICU for 10 days.
“They were looking at blood clotting factors, they were looking at metabolic issues, and they were looking at his brain on MRIs,” said Keeble.
After a long period of serious deliberation, the experts concluded that Michael had experienced a perinatal stroke.
Because of Michael’s condition, his childhood milestones were delayed. “He was crawling later than other children, and then he was walking later,” said Keeble.
Now, Michael primarily has issues with the fine motor development of his right hand, especially with the simultaneous motion of his right index finger and his thumb. Because Michael retains the brain damage caused by the perinatal stroke, the stroke has manifested himself through a condition known as monoparesis, meaning he struggles with only one of his limbs. In this case, it is his right hand.
Although strokes are a neurological impediment, they can affect different people in different ways. For some, speech is compromised. For others, memory, or social skills. However, Michael’s perinatal stroke has thus far only been a physical setback, evidenced by his sharp mind and infectious personality.
“Cognitively, Michael is right where he should be and his communication and social skills are advanced,” said Keeble. “It is easy to love his great personality.”
Michael received weekly physical therapy and occupational therapy through Early Intervention since birth. He is regularly monitored through CHOP’s Stroke Program by several therapists and specialists.

“I can’t say enough good things about early intervention and CHOP,” said Keeble. “The care, and the people, it’s been truly phenomenal.”
Michael is extremely driven and motivated to cultivate and develop his skills, always excited for his sessions. He has already overcome many of the initial challenges associated with his condition.
“We work with him every single day on tasks and skills, and we incorporate so much of what we do into play, so he sees it as a fun activity,” said Keeble.
The Keebles are passionate about spreading awareness about Michael’s condition, which is not as well-known as it should be. Some of the family’s endeavors include selling bracelets for perinatal stroke awareness, raising funds for the Pediatric Stroke Warriors, participating in CHOP’s 31-day Challenge to raise funds for CHOP, and organizing an annual toy drive for CHOP patients.
“For Michael’s third birthday, we sold T-shirts with a quote on them, and then donated the funds of the T-shirt sales to the CHOP stroke program,” said Keeble.
The CHOP stroke program involves an intensive summer therapy session for stroke patients, and the funds from the T-shirt sales were funneled directly into this program.
The beauty of the Camp All Hands-on Deck Bimanual Intensive Therapy Program is that it offers successful therapy for its participants, but also allows the children to feel as if they are at a normal summer camp. The Keebles highly value CHOP for their dedication to Michael and were delighted to help them help others.
Because of the extensive work that the Keebles have put in to create awareness for perinatal strokes, their fellow community members nominated Michael for an American Stroke Association award. After a People’s Choice Award vote, Michael was given national recognition as a Stroke Hero.
Brett and Jennifer Keeble were overwhelmed by the number of votes Michael received for the award, and are grateful for such a warm, loving community.
“That he has all these people that support him and his story, and that he can help other people by bringing awareness, is amazing,” said Keeble.
Michael’s story has enlightened, inspired, and invigorated many. Because despite all his challenges, Michael has proven that it is not the obstacles, but how you overcome them, that define you.