St. Bernards Medical Center, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital of Jonesboro and the Center on Aging-Northeast recently partnered to provide a stroke symposium in Jonesboro for more than 150 area healthcare professionals.
Dr. Ronald South, Jonesboro neurologist with Neurology Associates of Northeast Arkansas, and Dr. Hilary Siebens of Seal Beach, Calif., a specialist in geriatrics, internal medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, served as symposium speakers at a dinner program at St. Bernards Auditorium.
South discussed prevention of stroke in the 21st Century, and Siebens talked about challenges and successes in stroke rehabilitation.
The dinner program concluded a day of activities focusing on treatment of strokes.
Recent developments have revolutionized the way healthcare professionals prevent and/or treat stroke patients. Primary stroke prevention includes weight loss, exercise, low fat/low salt diet, cessation of tobacco use, control of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar, points out Dr. Thomas Mulligan, geriatrician at the St. Bernards Senior Health Clinic and medical director of the Center on Aging-Northeast. Those things represent major lifestyle changes for many, he says.
Management of acute stroke, he continues, has changed tremendously in the recent past. And one of the important therapies to be considered is administering fibrinolytic therapy (tPa) during the first three hours after onset of stroke. However, physicians have to make individual determinations based on who is determined to be a good candidate for the therapy.
“At St. Bernard’s the Emergency Department staff has developed a ‘Code Brain’ protocol to ensure the rapid assessment of stroke patients that qualify to receive the tPa therapy,” says Dr. Randy McComb, medical director of the St. Bernards Emergency Department. “This drug is administered via an IV infusion over one hour, but evidence suggests it should be given within three hours of symptom onset for maximum effectiveness. In some cases, it can be given up to four and a half hours after symptom onset, but there is more exclusion criteria if you go beyond the first three hours.”
Recovery after acute stroke is crucial to improving quality of life and is linked to physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. Quality therapy programs can make a difference between a life of disability and depression versus a return to a functional life, Mulligan points out.
The day started out with a clinical managers’ summit on improving stroke care. It featured presentations by Dr. James Wang, Memphis neurologist; Dr. Randy McComb, Emergency Department medical director at St. Bernards; Shon Riley, physical therapist at St. Bernards; and St. Bernards registered nurses Tracy Tucker, Melodie Zipfel and Stacey Halk.
At noon, professionals had opportunity to take part in grand rounds with Dr. Wang, a physician who also holds a Ph.D. and practices at Wesley Neurology Clinic in Memphis.