With stroke, “time is brain”

The sensation hits you abruptly. You have difficulty speaking or comprehending what’s going on around you. You lose feeling in an arm or leg. Your head is pounding.

These are some of the telltale symptoms of stroke, but despite the fact that stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. and affects an estimated 700,000 people each year, many people are unaware of these warning signs and fail to act when they occur.

Health care workers often use the term: “With stroke, time is brain.” It means that every minute counts from the time someone has a stroke to when they first get treated.

Stroke patients taken to Rogue Valley Medical Center can now receive care from top stroke physicians at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) through a collaboration with the OHSU Telemedicine Network.

On average, there are 300 strokes in the region every year, with 210 stroke patients treated at Rogue Valley Medical Center in 2011

The secure two-way audio and video connection with telemedicine puts an OHSU neurologist right in the room with the patient and the doctor in just minutes. Patients benefit by receiving the latest and most effective stroke treatments thanks to OHSU’s team of expert stroke neurologists as well as the extensive research program at the OHSU Stroke Center and OHSU’s participation in national clinical trials.

Using a robotic videoconferencing unit, the OHSU doctor can examine the patient, monitor vital signs, read X-rays or CT scans, consult with the emergency room physician and answer a family’s questions.

“Telemedicine allows the emergency room doctor to have a backup – a second opinion,” said Wayne Clark, M.D., professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine, and director of the OHSU Stroke Center. “We have a team of stroke physicians available 24/7/365. With telemedicine we can be there with the patient in five to 10 minutes maximum.”

Rogue Valley Medical Center has been a certified Primary Stroke Center since 2003, with local neurologists available or on call around the clock.

“We have an experienced team of physicians, nurses, and other clinical staff. The telemedicine service aids our team by allowing the emergency room physician to consult with OHSU right away,” says Charity Barrueta, RN, program coordinator of the RVMC Primary Stroke Center. “This greatly enhances our ability to preserve brain function for our stroke patients.”

Rogue Valley Medical Center has offered pediatric intensive care consults through the OHSU Telemedicine Network since 2010.

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