TeleStroke on the upswing

TeleStroke on the upswing – Ryan G. PT

In a follow up to an article I wrote some months ago about Act FAST for early assessment and treatment of stroke in numerous patients I want to relay information on an up and coming trend referred to as TeleStroke.  When administered to appropriate patients, TPA has been shown to reduce the disability caused by Acute Ischemic Stroke. TeleStroke programs are advocated for quick, effective and efficient care of Acute Stroke in order to identify those who will benefit from TPA.

As I had previously stated, if a patient or his/her family member is able, they need to request that the ambulance take them to a Stroke  Center.  However, what happens if they are rural, or the interstate is gridlocked such that the Stroke Center is no longer the fastest or safest option?  With a TeleStroke program, a rural or less advanced hospital can communicate with the main/hub stroke center in the area via videoconference between health care professionals.  The TeleStroke technology will allow a neurologist at the stroke center to view digital copies of the CT scan to ascertain the type of stroke, the damage done, so far, and what can be done currently. With the numerous advancements in radiology imaging digital copies can be sent via Internet from one hospital to the next immediately.  Another benefit of TeleStroke is that the on call ER doctor who may be hesitant or unfamiliar with the optimum methods of treating an ischemic stroke can consult with a Neurologist who is better qualified to perform an assessment remotely and make recommendations on administering the proper treatments for the patient.  Again, the technology advancements of the last several years allow for real time video conferencing to allow for the pt to get optimum care.

Further justifying the benefit of TeleStroke is that the program allows the healthcare professionals to form a line of communication and documentation to protect the patient and as well as all parties involved in making the correct diagnosis and treatment decision. Some providers refrain from administering TPA due to the fear of medical malpractice lawsuits, but this technology can provide the support needed  to make the correct decision to use TPA based on a careful risk-benefit assessment.

The benefits of a TeleStroke program allow a Stroke Center to have an even greater reach in order to provide the person suffering the stroke the best chance at survival and recovery if they are able to access the Stroke Center directly.  As the world advances, so, too, do the methods to provide efficient and safe care; these avenues should be implemented as often as possible as to provide safe and accurate patient care. In order to receive the benefit it is important to find out if your local hospital is a Stroke Center or if they have access to a Stroke Center via TeleStroke technology before you need the services in an emergency. If you or someone you are with experiences stroke symptoms remember to Act FAST!