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Gains in technology, along with a team approach greatly benefit stroke patients

By: Leslie Massey, leslie.massey@gazette.com
May 25, 2016 Updated: May 25, 2016 at 12:39 pm
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Medical guidelines for hospitals regarding the treatment of stroke patients have progressed to a point that is improving the ultimate outcome for patients.

“Twenty years ago when someone came in suffering an ischemic stroke, the first thing we wanted to do was get their blood pressure down,” Glen House, M.D., Medical Director and Doctor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, said. “Now we know that letting the blood pressure remain moderately high while being closely monitored, ‘Permissive hypertension,’ can aid recovery more effectively.”

Hypertension causes blood to flow through arteries with more force, yet still transporting essential oxygen and nutrients. An “ischemic penumbra” is the area of injury caused by a stroke with still viable cerebral tissue, which benefits from the additional volume of nutrients.

“If managed correctly, the oxygen and nutrients carried by hypertension can help the damaged nerve tissue recover,” House said.

Monitoring stroke patients closely is imperative and Penrose-St. Francis Health Services works as a team to oversee the best care possible.

Penrose-St. Francis Health Services provides 24/7 advanced stroke treatment and was named a certified Advanced Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. Penrose-St. Francis is part of Centura Health, the region’s leading healthcare network.

“From doctors to nurses to rehabilitation therapists, everyone communicates to keep a close eye on the patients,” he said. “The physicians are secure in knowing their patients are watched like a hawk.”

Coordinating fluid intake, diet restrictions, blood sugar levels and more, means patients receive the best care possible thanks to the team structure at Penrose-St. Francis.

“We have the rehabilitation area right in the middle of the hospital making it easy for specialists to see patients as quickly as they are needed,” House said. “Thanks to our rapid-response approach if there’s any concern, within minutes the whole team can be at the bedside to assess the patient.”

Due to advancements and improvements implemented at Penrose-St. Francis, “We are treating sicker patients, they are getting better faster and we are able to get them in and out faster,” House said.

Gains in technology have also reinforced a tremendous improvement in care, including a vision clinic run by Dr. Tom Wilson, a Neuro-Ophthalmologist. “When your vision isn’t working well, it’s very hard to do anything else,” House said.

Specialty equipment also helps to maximize recovery, such as neuromuscular electrical stimulation, which incorporates micro sensors to help a contracting muscle finish.

“We also use Nintendo Wii to help regain balance and control,” House said. “It’s a fun and useful way to work on rehabilitation; we call it Wii-hab.”

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