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What is Stroke?

A stroke is a “brain attack”. It can happen to anyone at any time. It occurs when blood flow to an area of brain is cut off. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die during a stroke, abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

How a person is affected by their stroke depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much the brain is damaged. For example, someone who had a small stroke may only have minor problems such as temporary weakness of an arm or leg. People who have larger strokes may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but more than 2/3 of survivors will have some type of disability.

Stroke By The Numbers

  • Each year nearly 800,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke.
  • A stroke happens every 40 seconds.
  • Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • Every 4 minutes someone dies from stroke.
  • Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
  • Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the U.S.

(Information from

Telestroke at KRMC

In March 2017, months of planning and hard work came to fruition with the launch of the Telestroke Program at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. It is a new service that utilizes a device with a camera, allowing the Telestroke neurologist on call to assess the potential stroke patient from many different degrees.

“We can’t train enough neurologists to support the growing needs of our aging population,” says Marco Gonzalez Castellon, MD, neurologist and Telestroke champion. “Telestroke is helping us to fill that gap with the aid of technology. We’re bringing the stroke expert to the bedside.”

From either their office or home, the neurologist logs into the new software and views the patient’s CT scans, while viewing and speaking with the patient. “We know every minute counts with a stroke,” says Anna Dolezal, clinical program coordinator, Neurological Sciences. “Every minute, 1.9 million brain cells die during a stroke.”

In a nutshell, here’s how the Telestroke protocol works:

  • A patient presents with recent onset of stroke symptoms (or first responders indicate a likely stroke)
  • Someone in the Emergency Department pages the neurologist on call for Telestroke
  • The neurologist calls and speaks with the attending emergency physician
  • The neurologist uses an app on their phone or tablet to connect to the Telestroke unit
  • The nurse brings the Telestroke unit into the patient’s room, introduces the neurologist and helps with the exam
  • The neurologist explains the process, conducts the exam and develops a treatment plan with the patient/family/emergency care provider
  • Treatment begins

“The sooner we treat, the better the outcome,” says Dr. Gonzalez.

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