CHENNAI: When it comes to saving a person who has been hit by a stroke, it’s not what is done that matters, it’s how soon it’s done that really makes the difference. Stroke specialists and neurosurgeons have been talking about India’s massive stroke burden for years now, but precious little has been done to improve the skills and diagnostic alertness of people across sectors to spot signs of a stroke.
Most commonly, strokes tend to express themselves with Transient Ischemic Attacks, with facial contractions, paralysis on one side or more and even convulsions and slurring of speech. When any of these signs are spotted, the clock begins to tick, because it means that there is a block in the blood supply to the brain — every minute that passes, a small part of the brain is being deprived of the amount of blood supply needed.
If it is diagnosed as stroke by anyone from the EMT in the ambulance to the General Physician that you are taken to, then thrombolysing drugs will be administered to burst the clot and assist the brain supply to return to normal. However, the largest issue that clinicians are facing is that people come in hours, days and even weeks after they have suffered strokes and hope for a miracle.
To counter this, the Indian Stroke Association is planning to set up a Mentorship Programme for clinicians, surgeons, paramedics and health workers in a bid to get people to identify its incidence quicker. And obviously, respond a whole lot faster. Talking about how much ground needed to be covered with stroke prevention across Indian, Dr Dheeraj Khurana, president of the Indian Stroke Association said that this would assist in the quick identification of stroke and then there was an option of treating them quickly to avoid permanent damage. “This mentorship programme will be of great benefit,” he said.
Speaking at the launch of the Fortis Stroke Centre, which will be run by the hospital’s Head of Neurology and Epilepsology, Dr Dinesh Nayak S, Dr Khurana also spoke about how they were planning to scale up the teleconference link to diagnose strokes. This would include mapping centres of excellence with smaller hospitals and PHCs such that referrals would be made via a live video conferencing. “At the moment, images are being shared via streams like Whatsapp, but if we can establish a video conference link then treatment modalities will be much faster,” he added.