Diagnosis by 'telemedicine' can save stroke victims


Phoenix neurologist Bart Demaerschalk was enjoying Thanksgiving dessert at home when he got a message: A woman in an emergency room 200 miles away in Kingman had developed slurred speech and drooping facial muscles during her own holiday dinner.
Within minutes, Demaerschalk was looking at the patient, asking her questions, going over her brain scan and confirming a diagnosis: stroke.

Demaerschalk is no superhero. He made that 200-mile leap with the help of a two-way video and audio link set up just for such consultations.

And it mattered. As a result of the "telestroke" consultation, he and the woman's local doctors agreed she should be treated with a clot-busting drug that could restore normal blood flow in her brain and lessen her risk of lasting disability.

"The patient made a nearly full recovery over the next 24 hours," Demaerschalk says.

Experiences such as those are why the Mayo Clinic physician and others see telemedicine as one solution to a vexing problem: Few stroke patients are getting emergency treatments that sometimes prevent the most devastating effects of strokes.

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National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke by developing compelling education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.