Iowa boy rehabilitates at LifeScape after suffering stroke

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - An 11-year-old boy is recovering after he suffered a stroke the end of March. Emmett Kiel spent a lot of time rehabilitating at LifeScape but was finally able to go home Friday.

His parents, Crystal and Jon Kiel, are grateful for the care he received at the Sioux Falls non-profit. One of the reasons they're grateful is because the therapists have fun with Emmett.

"There's a lot of caring and comfort and understanding. They know that Emmett's just a kid. We're going to work hard, but we're still going to have fun," Crystal said.

Emmett spent more than 55 days at LifeScape, working with three different therapists twice a day for about three hours.

"So I'm working on standing balance and maintaining his balance while he's doing a task, which is really functional for things, like brushing his teeth, combing his hair, getting ready for school," Becky Schmitz said, who is Emmett's physical therapist.

Before he went to LifeScape, he spent more than 10 days in the hospital. His parents rushed him to the ER in Orange City, IA on March 27th.

"He just started yelling and got stiff as a board," Crystal said.

"That was probably the hardest part. It really was- was not knowing," Jon said.

He was transferred to Sioux Falls where doctors determined he had a stroke.

"It was very scary. We didn't know what was going on. It was a relief to have a diagnosis," Crystal said.

But their lives changed completely.

"We're kind of that in between from leaving the hospital to going home," Jaime Stratman said, who is Emmett's speech therapist. "And helping families get their homes ready, what they need to have prepared for taking their child home again."

Once he was medically stable, Emmett went to LifeScape to work with an occupational therapist, a physical therapist and a speech therapist.
He has to relearn how to walk, talk and be independent.

"He started out only being able to just say an 'ah' sound. And now he is speaking with words and phrases," Stratman said.

The goal for Emmett is to get his full vocabulary back. But doctors don't know how much permanent damage he has since every stroke is different.

"Being that he's made this much progress with such a severe stroke at 2 ½ months, we're really hopeful to what he will look like at the 1 year mark," Crystal said.

"We really don't know for sure what's going to happen," Jon said.

Crystal and Jon were able to take turns and stay with Emmett while he was rehabbing at LifeScape in Sioux Falls. Now, he's home.

"That's just a transition. We're going to have to learn a new life of normalcy and what that is," Jon said. "It could be worrisome but yet at the same time, it's comforting."

It's comforting because Emmett will be back with his family on the farm doing what he's tried to do the entire time through this healing process, which is be a kid.

Jon and Crystal said doctors don't know why Emmett had the stroke. The type he suffered from usually comes from blunt force to the head from something like a baseball or whiplash in a car accident. But Emmett didn't experience something like that.