Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the fourth-leading cause of death in the U.S. In order to limit and possibly even prevent long-term damage, healthcare professionals must be highly trained, must act quickly, and must coordinate across disciplines in order to provide a full range of care immediately after the stroke and for the hours, days, weeks, and months that follow.
First line of defense
The first line of defense is a strong offense. It’s critical to educate oneself about the risk factors of stroke and work to reduce or eliminate them. If a person is at high risk of stroke, Neuralert’s stroke detection wristbands can detect the onset of stroke symptoms and send a message within minutes to medical personnel so that care can begin as quickly as possible. The more quickly treatment is given, the greater the chance of full recovery.
The most common symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the mnemonic, BE FAST:
- B – Balance difficulties
- E – Eyesight changes
- F – Facial droop
- A – Arm weakness
- S – Speech difficulties
- T – Time to call 911
If you notice any sudden changes of this kind in yourself or someone else, don’t hesitate to get help. Call for an ambulance rather than drive to the hospital, because the emergency medical service (EMS) team on the ambulance is the first step in stroke care. They can immediately begin evaluation, coordinate with medical staff on call, and prep for treatment as they rush the patient to the hospital.
The Emergency Department (ED) team takes over from the EMS team, quickly assessing the situation and calling on the stroke rapid response team, which includes medical experts in a variety of disciplines: stroke physicians, neuroradiologists, nurses and nurse practitioners, cardiologists, intensive care specialists, and laboratory technologists. The best stroke hospitals also have neurologists on call 24/7 to consult about test results and the best course of action to achieve the best results for the patient. A neurosurgeon may be called upon to perform surgery, depending on the type and severity of the stroke.
Other experts may be brought in during the hospital stay, including neuropsychologists, palliative care specialists, pharmacists, and a wide range of therapists, as well as peer support groups and spiritual support.
A team with so many moving parts requires a leader to organize and direct its proper function. The lead stroke physician coordinates all the care within the in-hospital stroke team and can pass the baton to the patient’s primary care physician or rehab physician when the patient is discharged.
The lead physician coordinates, but all team members work to provide transparent communication and collaboration in order to ensure the most effective protocols are administered in the most effective manner. The various members contribute their medical expertise and perspective and collaborate on goals, care planning, and decision-making.
Doctors must remain continually involved in the patient’s recovery, as problems can arise, such as blood clots, urinary tract infections, skin breakdown or bed sores, falls, depression, and other complications from the patient’s condition. Pre-existing medical conditions, including risk factors that may have contributed to the stroke, still need to be managed by the physician.
If the patient is released to a rehabilitation center, the physician at the center will coordinate services. Eventually, the primary care physician will be the coordinator of the patient’s ongoing care, which may include a variety of therapists and other services as needed, such as:
- Occupational therapist
- Speech and language pathologist
- Social worker
- Discharge planner or case manager
- Rehab nurse
These important medical experts continue to work with the physician to help the patient recover. Family and caregivers should be kept involved in the stroke team’s decisions and goals, as they play a critical role in the patient’s eventual recovery.
At Neuralert, we’re committed to decreasing the devastating effects of stroke. Our unique, non-invasive wristband technology looks like a smartwatch but can detect asymmetry of arm movement, one of the most common symptoms of stroke, within minutes and send an alert to the medical team of your choice.
Fast action can decrease the damage caused by a stroke and help you recover more quickly. It can be used within a hospital setting for patients at high risk of stroke or used after discharge to warn against another stroke. Consider adding Neuralert’s innovative stroke detection monitor to your stroke prevention plan.