Getting Help When You Have a Stroke

The classic signs of stroke onset and response can be easily remembered by a simple acronym: FAST. This stands for Face droop, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.

While all of these symptoms may not be apparent, they are present in 80+% of strokes and at least one presents itself in virtually every stroke. Since one-sided arm weakness is so prevalent (in one study reported by the CDC, 93% of stroke victims reported one-side numbness or weakness), our state-of-the-art Neuralert Stroke Detection System uses this symptom as an indicator of stroke for patients who are already in the hospital for other reasons.

When you notice a stroke

If you notice stroke symptoms in a loved one, resist the temptation to drive the person to the hospital yourself. Emergency medical technicians in the ambulances are trained to assess for stroke and immediately begin medical procedures. They are also able to inform the hospital so the hospital will have its stroke team ready when the ambulance arrives.

When the patient gets to the hospital

When a person having a stroke arrives at the hospital in an ambulance, a stroke team is already ready. If there is an Acute Stroke-Ready hospital or a Primary Stroke Center nearby, they may go directly to that hospital, where specialized experts or services are available, such as the ability to provide IV thrombolytic care. Otherwise, the hospital will assess the person’s condition and begin treatment, then decide whether it is best to transfer to a specialized care center.

In-hospital strokes

Unfortunately, up to 17% of the strokes in the U.S. occur in patients who are already in the hospital for other reasons. Hospitalization can actually significantly delay the identification of stroke symptoms; some studies have found that it can take as much as 4.5 hours for hospital personnel to notice signs of stroke and begin evaluation and treatment.

This delay may be caused by patients being alone for long periods of time, and if they are sedated, on oxygen, or sedated, many of the classic signs of stroke like facial drooping and slurred or incoherent speech, are not apparent when medical staff check in on them. Arm weakness may also be difficult to detect, but the Neuralert Stroke Detection system is sensitive enough to detect arm strength asymmetry in patients even while they are sleeping or sedated. Neuralert has been proven in clinical settings to detect signs of possible stroke in as little as fifteen minutes with very few false alarms.

Neuralert is so effective because it combines a unique, non-invasive wristband technology with a state-of-the-art patented algorithm developed by the University of Pennsylvania that mathematically models out other causes of asymmetry, such as hand dominance, eating, speaking on the phone, and an IV in the arm, thereby detecting only true anomalies in asymmetric patterns. It then immediately alerts hospital staff to assess the patient and initiate necessary treatment.

Post-stroke care and recovery

If a stroke is caught quickly enough, long-term damage can be limited or even prevented. This is why we created Neuralert, which will eventually be connected to smart watch technology such as Google Fitbit and Apple Watch, for personal use outside of the hospital setting.

Many stroke patients will need post-stroke therapy sessions to address their particular needs. Physical and occupational therapy can help with regaining use of arms and strengthening gait and balance. Speech therapy and swallow therapy are often very valuable to help strengthen the throat muscles and retrain the mouth muscles and brain function to rebuild language ability.

Stroke recovery can be a long road, and nearly 25% of strokes are actually in patients who have had strokes before, so you must continually monitor for more stroke symptoms and make any lifestyle changes that are necessary to reduce risk. Neuralert, currently being used exclusively in hospitals, may in the future be used in outpatient situations as well, and may be a partner with you or your loved one to alert medical personnel quickly if another stroke occurs.