The stroke unit is equipped with a camera that doctors like Edwards at LVHN stroke centers can operate to monitor what’s happening and direct initial treatment. They have direct communication with the stroke unit crew, which also can perform a computed tomography (CT) scan so doctors can get a view of what’s happening inside the patient’s brain. Communication with doctors also provides information on which type of stroke center – primary or comprehensive – is best for the patient under the circumstances.
For Tom, 79, the CT scan pointed to the need for a clot-busting drug, and it was administered before he even reached LVH–Cedar Crest. “It’s like bringing the ER right to the patient,” says Mark Graber, CRNP, a certified registered nurse practitioner and pre-hospital registered nurse with the stroke unit. “The sooner you can open the clot up, the better. That’s the whole key. Getting treatment sooner helps reduce the potential for lasting effects.”
Not all strokes require clot-busting medication. In cases where there is bleeding in the brain, the situation calls for drugs to stop the bleeding.
For stroke victims, time is brain. Edwards said 30,000 brain cells die every second they are deprived of oxygen-rich blood. It’s estimated the brain has about 86 billion nerve cells and billions of other types of cells. In Tom’s case, he received the clot-busting medicine about 42 minutes after the onset of his symptoms and within 20 minutes of the mobile stroke unit’s arrival. “Those are amazingly great times,” he says.
Both Doris and Tom were impressed with the stroke unit and the results. “I was amazed,” says Doris.
Edwards says calling 911 is the right thing to do to get stroke victims help faster. “Never, ever try to drive them [stroke victim] to the hospital,” Doris says. “Get an ambulance. That is number one.” The Hunsickers are grateful for the mobile stroke unit and Tom’s care at LVH–Cedar Crest, a comprehensive stroke center.