11:41 AM

Lodge Grass Student in Starting Line-up at Divisional Basketball Tournament After Suffering a Stroke in August


It began with numbness in her hand for teenager Kloe Cummins, a junior at Lodge Grass High School, while she was at volleyball practice. Cummins drove herself 20 miles to receive care in Crow Agency.   

While being evaluated, she began to have facial drooping, pointing to a potential neurological problem. She needed a higher-level of care and was transported by ambulance to St. Vincent Regional Hospital. Upon arrival and after running several more tests, the team at St. Vincent determined that Cummins was having a stroke due to a clot in her brain, blocking blood flow, a rare occurrence for someone at the age of 15.  

 "When suffering a stroke, every second counts. Even in young patients, recognizing symptoms and receiving quick treatment are the most important factors in a patient's outcome," shared Dr. James Richards, Medical Director of the St. Vincent Stroke Program. 

 Because of access to an innovative thrombectomy procedure now offered at St. Vincent, Cummins could be treated at St. Vincent. A St. Vincent specialist performed the procedure, guided by imaging technology, using a catheter device to remove the clot blocking blood flow to the brain. Until recently, this advanced stroke care was primarily offered out-of-state in large medical centers in urban areas.   

 "The ability to keep patients close to home and save time when it is most crucial are the driving forces for growing our interventional stroke program and adding this new state-of-the-art technology," shared Dr. Richards. "We are so proud to be able to offer this advanced level of lifesaving care to patients like Kloe right here in Billings." 


 St. Vincent stroke specialists have performed around 100 thrombectomy procedures in the almost two years since offering this advanced level of stroke care. Cummins was the first pediatric patient to undergo the operation.  

Cummins symptoms began to improve immediately following the procedure, as she recovered under the care of the pediatric team at St. Vincent. While in the hospital, Cummins also received tremendous support from family and friends.    

"In those first days, she had 30 or 40 visitors in the hospital," shared her mother, Nicole Real Bird. "There was a lot of support from the community; everyone was praying."  

After leaving the hospital, she began rehabilitation, and after just two sessions, she started to shoot a basketball again. She continued her rehab and recovery at home and has made incredible progress.   


Six months later, Cummins is back to full strength and is in the starting line-up for the Lodge Grass Girls Basketball team, participating in the divisional basketball tournament in Billings. Cummins made a critical basket and secured a game-winning rebound in a victory over Shephard High School on February 28.  

 Watching her daughter competing at a high level after what she had been through just months earlier, Real Bird shed “tears of happiness.”  

 "Every time she is able to go out on court, I am so grateful," shared Real Bird. "The care she received was such a blessing."