Comprehensive Stroke Treatment Helps East Stroudsburg Man
His daughter’s wedding was about a month away. Walter Schupp Jr., an artist employed in the art department at Northampton Community College, couldn’t wait to walk his youngest of three daughters, then 24-year-old Victoria, down the aisle. But what happened in the darkness of May 1, 2013, upended family plans.
“About 3 a.m., I didn’t feel good,” says Schupp, 49, of East Stroudsburg. He drove himself to a nearby hospital and collapsed. Imaging revealed a small tear in a carotid artery near the ear, which – trying to heal – had formed a clot that blocked blood to his brain. That explained recent right-arm weakness and trouble finding words. In reality, Schupp had been in the process of having a stroke for four or five days – well beyond the three-hour treatment window approved for standard clot-busting drug therapy.
“Fortunately, his caregivers knew about Lehigh Valley Hospital’s (LVH) capabilities as a Comprehensive Stroke Center,” says Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) neurointerventional radiologist Darryn Shaff, MD, with Medical Imaging of Lehigh Valley.
When Schupp transferred to Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, doctors faced a blockage unusual in its location and duration. “He had brain that was salvageable,” Shaff says. “But he had areas of stroke that were progressing.” When Victoria saw her father, he couldn’t speak or move the right side of his body, and his cognition was severely impaired. “I was terrified,” she says.
Shaff’s solution was to thread a small catheter – equipped with tiny tools – through an incision in the leg and up to the blockage site. Guided by X-ray imaging, he opened the artery and placed a stent to keep blood flowing. “Comprehensive Stroke Center certification ensures that procedures like this are available 24/7,” Shaff says.
Following surgery, Schupp faced a long rehabilitation road. “But I wanted to walk down that aisle,” he says. In weeks, he progressed from immobility to using a wheelchair to taking steps with a walker. “Having a motivating goal can have a huge effect on recovery,” Shaff says.
On June 8, 2013, a tuxedo-clad Schupp walked his daughter toward her union with husband Chad Torres. In lieu of dancing at the reception, Victoria sang her father the song “In My Father’s Eyes.” The couple are expecting their first child. Says Victoria, “I’m so glad my father is here to be part of our daughter’s life.”