Virtual Stroke Center CD-ROM helps American citizens recognise and prevent stroke

San Antonio 07 February 2002To educate Americans about the risks, warning signs, causes, treatment and prevention of stroke, Atlantic Health System's Neuroscience Institute and the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, have designed a Virtual Stroke Center CD-ROM. This interactive tool has been spearheaded by Richard Hodosh, M.D., renowned neurosurgeon and medical director, Atlantic Neuroscience Institute, in collaboration with the American Stroke Association.

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Stroke, the third leading killer behind heart disease and cancer in the United States, affects approximately 600.000 Americans each year. Despite the fact that more than half of all strokes are preventable through education and simple lifestyle changes, the incidence rate of stroke has remained relatively steady for the past several years.

"Education is the first step toward taking control of our health. The more we know, the better prepared we are to recognise the signs of a stroke and to act quickly in the critical first minutes. A stroke can be a devastating event not only for the patient but for family and friends as well. That is where this CD comes in", explained Dr. Hodosh, American Stroke Association national volunteer.

Atlantic Health System has applied its extensive resources and expertise in the area of neuroscience and specifically stroke, to the task of developing this CD-ROM. The comprehensive nature of the Virtual Stroke Center CD reflects the breadth of Atlantic's expertise in the field of neuroscience. Atlantic Health System's Virtual Stroke Center CD-ROM is geared toward all ages.

The Virtual Stroke Center CD offers users five different ways to explore its contents. The navigation menu is user-friendly and the language throughout the CD is informative, yet simple and easy to understand. There's even a Kids Corner section where younger children can learn about what a family member might be going through and understand how a stroke has affected them.

The CD begins as a virtual tour where you travel past the help desk to: "What is Stroke?", where stimulating visual graphics and a gentle voice guide you through the Causes and Types, Early Warning Signs, Impact on Patient, and Prognosis. Admissions and Diagnosis informs a patient about what to expect upon arrival at the hospital. The section on Goals of Early Medical Management describes an instrumental phase in understanding stroke care as the physician's next steps are to first confirm that the diagnosis is stroke, predict any immediate complications, discuss the reversibility of the damage, and then begin appropriate treatment.

The Virtual Stroke Center CD provides more than just an overview of what it means to have a stroke. It also includes informational portions on Image Testing, Additional Testing, and Drug Therapy. With a simple click of the mouse you can view any one of the numerous tests and therapies that are part of stroke treatment and see, for example, what an MRI looks like, and listen to how and why it might need to be performed. Dr. Hodosh himself can be viewed in the preview to the Surgery section where a combination of graphics, text and narration explain each procedure.

Age is one of the risk factors associated with stroke. 72 percent of all strokes occur in people over age 65. Seniors can be particularly overwhelmed with the recovery process and most are unaware of the successful results which can be achieved through rehabilitation. The Rehabilitation section begins to uncover Long Term Effects, and explains the importance of Mobility where early training is crucial to keep limbs flexible so the patient can begin to return to daily activities.

Success Factors delves into the realistic expectations of a stroke survivor, as the extent to which the brain has been affected is further determined, patient goals are established, and family and community support is encouraged. Communication and Self Care in rehabilitation solidify an individual's ability to learn again through repetition, patience, and persistence in the face of frustration when daily activities have suddenly become a chore.

Dr. Hodosh further explained: "Everyone knows someone who has been affected by stroke, but few people realise that the vast majority of strokes are preventable. This CD was designed primarily to help reduce the incidence rate of stroke. In addition, it is an invaluable tool in helping people and families who are affected by stroke to understand the treatment and recovery process, and adopt a healthier lifestyle."

An estimated 4.5 million stroke survivors are alive today. The Virtual Stroke Center CD's "What You Can Do and Who is at Risk" presents the genetic factors and preventative measures for stroke. Stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability, and any age and ethnic background, primarily African Americans, can be at risk. The Gallery portion of the CD puts the user in touch with actual stroke patients. You can click on a picture in the gallery, conduct an interview, and listen to the personal accounts of stroke survivors, family members, and physicians.

When you are ready to test your newfound knowledge on stroke, feel free to take the Stroke Trivia test. The Resource Library provides a wealth of information to helpful publications, organisations, and direct links to various stroke Web sites. The Virtual Stroke Center CD-ROM is currently available for a nominal $5 fee for shipping and handling by accessing the Atlantic Health System Web site.


Leslie Versweyveld

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