Telestroke program extends critical care to patients in rural and regional areas

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DALLAS – March 31, 2014 – UT Southwestern Medical Center has launched a state-of-the-art telemedicine program that will extend immediate access to UT Southwestern’s nationally recognized stroke care during the crucial time period when treatment is needed for a patient of an ischemic stroke, or clot in one of the brain’s blood vessels.

Partner hospitals — most of which are outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area — can now consult in real time with physicians from UT Southwestern’s Robert D. Rogers Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center, one of only 67 advanced comprehensive centers in the country certified by The Joint Commission.

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Dr. Mark Goldberg

“In stroke care, time is so critical. With the launch of the UT Southwestern telestroke network, our neurology team can provide expert evaluations and treatment decisions for patients located hundreds of miles away, often within minutes,” said Dr. Mark Goldberg, Chair of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics, who directs the Beatrice Menne Haggerty Center for Research on Brain Injury and Repair in Stroke.

UT Southwestern’s telestroke remote partners include Good Shepherd Medical Center locations in Kilgore, Marshall, and Linden. While the majority of partner hospitals are located in rural areas, local hospitals in need of emergency access to vascular neurologists, such as Texas General Hospital in Grand Prairie, also have become partners. 

UT Southwestern physicians use iPads to provide 24/7, one-on-one audiovisual consultations to the medical staff and stroke patients in the emergency rooms at partner hospitals. Patients’ MRI and CT imaging results are securely shared via specialized cloud technology, and if necessary, patients can be transferred to the nearest Primary Stroke Center, where they have access to high-level, comprehensive medical care for strokes.

Common stroke symptoms include face drooping, unilateral arm weakness, sudden and severe headache, and trouble talking or slurred speech. Optimal stroke care includes timely application of treatment in order for the patient to have a high chance of successful recovery. Research published by the American Heart Association shows that 1.9 million brain cells are lost for each minute during a stroke, making time a crucial aspect of treatment. However, because many people live in rural areas far from major medical centers, they may not be able to reach stroke centers in time to receive treatment. The telestroke network provides more Texans access to this time-sensitive care.

A longtime pioneer in the field of neuroscience, UT Southwestern has the largest and most comprehensive stroke team in Texas, including six full-time neurointensivists – neurologists with an advanced degree in intensive care for vascular brain injuries such as strokes and aneurysms. UT Southwestern stroke specialists helped pioneer development of some of the most advanced and effective brain aneurysm procedures and technologies in use today, including helping to refine the fast-acting drug tPA to rapidly dissolve blood clots. UT Southwestern physicians also played a critical role in developing the concept and standards for certifying stroke programs.

The Department of Neurology and Neurotherapeutics at UT Southwestern is ranked in the top 20 in the nation, according to U.S. News & World Report’s annual report on Best Hospitals. UT Southwestern’s multidisciplinary cerebrovascular program pairs neurologists, neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons with vascular, endovascular and critical-care expertise to treat all forms of stroke and blood-vessel disease affecting the brain and spinal cord, including complex case referrals throughout Texas and the surrounding five-state area.

About UT Southwestern Medical Center 

UT Southwestern, one of the premier academic medical centers in the nation, integrates pioneering biomedical research with exceptional clinical care and education. The institution’s faculty includes many distinguished members, including five who have been awarded Nobel Prizes since 1985. Numbering more than 2,700, the faculty is responsible for groundbreaking medical advances and is committed to translating science-driven research quickly to new clinical treatments. UT Southwestern physicians provide medical care in 40 specialties to nearly 91,000 hospitalized patients and oversee more than 2 million outpatient visits a year.

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Media Contact:  Remekca Owens
214-648-3404
remecka.owens@utsouthwestern.edu 

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