Medical center to offer ‘telestroke’ program

Published 10:51 am Monday, December 24, 2012

Patients in need of emergency medical care for stroke may benefit from Mayo Clinic’s new telestroke program available at Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin.

In telestroke care, the use of a computer allows a patient in Austin’s emergency department to be seen and heard, virtually, by a Mayo Clinic stroke neurologist in Rochester in real time. The Mayo Clinic stroke neurologist, whose face appears on a computer screen, consults with the local emergency room physicians and evaluates the patient.

Patients showing signs of stroke can be examined by the neurologist via computer, smart phone technology, portable computer tablets or laptops. In addition to assessing the patient, the neurologist can view scans of the patient’s brain to detect possible damage from a hemorrhage or blocked artery.

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“A stroke is called a ‘brain attack’ for good reason,” said Robben Crabtree, Director of Emergency Services, Mayo Clinic Health System in Austin. “As with a heart attack, a stroke is a medical emergency. Quick access to a neurologist at the patient’s bedside — through use of a computer — is a major benefit to patients who present in our emergency department with stroke symptoms.”

Dr. Robert Brown, M.D., Professor and Chair of Neurology, and leader of the Mayo Clinic Telestroke program in the upper Midwest, explains telestroke technology is not intended to replace face-to-face communication with patients.

“But research strongly suggests that the technology can enhance evaluation and treatment for patients in rural areas, as well as peer-to-peer collaboration among physicians,” he said.