Recognizing the Signs of Stroke - Fred’s Story

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Published on March 21, 2017

Recognizing the Signs of Stroke

Fred’s Story

Fred CourserThere are several key steps for successfully treating stroke patients: the patient or companion recognizing the signs of stroke; getting to the hospital without delay; and receiving immediate, appropriate care.

Fred Courser and his wife, Joyce, recognized Fred might be having a stroke in February 2016. His doctor advised them to get to Concord Hospital immediately, and there, the Hospital’s stroke team immediately began diagnosis and treatment that may have saved his life.

Fred, who is 76, had just returned home from a cardiac rehabilitation class at Concord Hospital when he felt dizzy, had double vision and slurred speech and began bumping into things while walking.

He, Joyce and their daughter drove right back to the Hospital, where the Emergency Department stroke team had been alerted and began assessing Fred’s condition and running tests that are crucial to decisions about treatment. Then, as part of a valuable TeleStroke collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital, the team consulted with a Mass General stroke specialist via a video conference system.

Through a video monitor, the Mass General specialist observed Fred, asked questions and reviewed test results that revealed a blood clot in Fred’s brain. With Fred’s condition worsening, the Emergency Department physician ordered a clot-busting medication and Fred quickly was flown by medical helicopter to Mass General.

Within 90 minutes of his first symptoms, Fred was in the helicopter. By the time he reached Boston, the clot was nearly dissolved. Two days later he was back home.

“It’s all in the timing,” Fred said. “If you get there, they will take care of you.”

Fred was fortunate that his family got him to the Hospital quickly, but the importance of calling 911 when stroke is suspected also cannot be understated. First responders begin treating for stroke in the ambulance and can alert the Emergency Department by radio, so the stroke team is standing by to promptly begin treatment when the patient arrives.

With speech therapy and follow-up treatment, Fred’s speech is back to normal and his eyesight is nearly back to 100 percent. He walks two miles a day to stay in shape when he’s not piling firewood at his home.