Here at Neuralert, we stay on top of developments in the stroke community. When a person is having a stroke, time is critical. Throughout the country, healthcare systems are creating innovative ways to quickly deliver services to stroke patients. One way is through mobile stroke treatment units.
During a stroke, blood flow to the brain is hampered, causing the loss of oxygen to parts of the brain, either due to a blood clot or a burst blood vessel in or around the brain. Within 3-4 minutes of loss of oxygen, brain cells begin to die – as many as 2,000,000 per minute. After 10 minutes, severe brain damage can occur to that part of the brain.
Ischemic strokes, which are caused by blood clots, account for 80% of strokes. Thrombolytic medications dissolve blood clots, but speed is of the essence. Studies have found that while administering clot-busting medications within four hours can be beneficial, administration within the first hour provides the best results. This is known as “the golden hour.” Treatment for any kind of stroke within an hour of onset offers the best opportunity for preventing long-term damage.
Mobile stroke units speed treatment
In an effort to lessen the time between onset and treatment, various health systems around the country are deploying mobile stroke units, equipped with special stroke treatment technology and staffed by stroke specialists, to determine if they decrease the time of treatment and if that improves the outcome.
These mobile units include:
- CT scanner
- Telehealth technology so that experts in the hospital can examine the patient virtually
- Thrombolytic medication to be administered as soon as it is prescribed
- Critical care nurse and CT tech
- EMTs and paramedics trained in stroke treatment to also address other health issues that may be present
Mobile stroke units are being utilized in diverse areas across the country, including Cleveland, Houston, New York City, Denver, and Gainesville, Florida.
Studies are being performed to measure the benefits of mobile stroke units. We know that faster treatment means better outcomes, so providing care while en route to the hospital is better than waiting until after arrival. How much better has been difficult to ascertain.
Because of issues out of the control of the researchers, such as traffic and distance from the hospital, it is difficult to measure how much sooner meds are being administered. For instance, a study of 66 patients in NYC comparing those who were treated in a mobile unit to those whose treatment began at the hospital found that clot-busting medications were administered 30 minutes sooner in the mobile unit. Thirty minutes can mean the difference between a strong recovery from a stroke and long-term damage.
A study in Houston, however, found that patients transferred in a mobile unit received clot-busting medications only 10 minutes faster. Yet even 10 minutes could save 270 million neurons per patient and decrease long-term damage.
Bringing the hospital to the patient
Mobile stroke units can bring the hospital to the patient, thus speeding up treatment and improving potential outcomes. However, they are extremely expensive and more studies will have to be performed to determine if they are cost-effective.
Neuralert Technologies is doing its part to decrease the time between stroke onset and treatment with its innovative stroke detection monitor, combining a unique, non-invasive wristband technology with a state-of-the-art patented algorithm to detect asymmetry in arm movement, one of the initial indications of stroke onset.
Neuralert’s AI technology can detect stroke symptoms in as little as 15 minutes, and 95% of strokes within an hour. Because our algorithm is able to rule out other reasons for asymmetry (for instance, eating or talking on the phone) the frequency of false alerts is nearly zero. Your medical team will know, when it receives a warning alert from your Neuralert monitor, that you need immediate attention.
Neuralert is another way to bring the hospital to the patient and in a far less costly manner. If you are at high risk for stroke, ask your doctor about adding Neuralert’s wristband to your stroke-prevention plan.