Doctors want to do what’s best for their patients. But sometimes a pre-existing condition can make it difficult for doctors to properly recognize that a patient is having a stroke or to judge the stroke’s severity. A recent research review examining stroke patients who had pre-existing disabilities or dementia showed that quick action can prevent the worsening of their conditions.
While the conclusions may seem obvious, in the pressures of medical emergencies, patients with these conditions often see delays in diagnosis because symptoms may be attributed to their existing conditions. Further, medical teams may judge that the stroke is worse or further progressed than it is, again because of the confusion with existing limitations the patient experiences. This delay or non-diagnosis can be disastrous or deadly for the patient.
A statement by the American Heart Association based on this research, published in March 2022 in the AHA’s journal Stroke and endorsed by the American Academy of Neurology, included the following points:
Effects of untreated stroke on those with existing disabilities are severe: research indicates that 79% live an average of 16 months after the stroke, and fully one-third cannot return home after being released from the hospital but instead must move to assisted living.
Medical personnel need to examine their personal biases that may have been informing their treatment of disabled patients: for example, ableism, which judges the worth of medical attention based on the patient’s abilities, and therapeutic nihilism, or the feeling that treatment would be hopeless.
Healthcare providers must understand the benefits of providing treatment to this demographic and stop any policy or personal bias which routinely withholds stroke treatments to those with existing cognitive or physical disabilities.
Primary care doctors and specialists should discuss with patients and their families what their values and goals are in order to understand their treatment preferences and help the families develop plans for healthcare emergencies, including stroke.
In the U.S., 22% of adults report some level of physical, cognitive, or intellectual disability. While this number seems staggering, it can be argued that it reflects the improvements in medicine that have improved the lifespan and quality of life for many Americans who, in previous decades, may simply have succumbed to their conditions. But with such large numbers of disabled adults, medical technology needs to continue to develop to help these patients, as well as the non-disabled, to survive strokes with minimal or no long-term damage.
The sooner a stroke is diagnosed, the faster life-saving protocols can be initiated, which is why we developed our Neuralert Stroke Detection System. Combining a non-invasive wristband technology with our patented AI algorithm that detects arm asymmetry while modeling out typical causes of asymmetric movement, Neuralert can alert medical professionals as much as five times faster than conventional methods, especially within hospital settings, where stroke detection is often delayed.
Neuralert is also designed to sync with “smartwatch” technology, which would allow the wristbands to be utilized outside a hospital setting in order to quickly alert caregivers to possible signs of a stroke for those at highest risk, especially those with pre-existing disabilities or dementia.
Contact us to see how we can partner with your healthcare facility to detect strokes sooner and potentially save lives.