More than 1000 patients benefit from emergency stroke care

Toronto 24 June 2009Thanks to the existence of a Telestroke programme which began in Ontario in 2002, more than 1000 patients who have experienced a stroke have survived its debilitating efforts using this novel treatment model. An emergency telemedicine application supported by the Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN), Telestroke uses live, two-way television and digital image transfer to "connect" local stroke patients and their emergency physicians with remote neurologists located at larger urban health care facilities to obtain urgent diagnosis and management advice.

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Telestroke neurologists can even recommend the administration of the clot-busting drug t-PA, a highly effective stroke treatment that, if used within the first three to four hours of the onset of a hyper acute stroke, may dramatically reduce its debilitating effects.

"Telestroke makes it possible for a neurologist to be at the patient's bedside - even when that patient is hundreds of miles away - and assist the local physician with determining the most effective therapy possible", stated Dr. Frank Silver, Medical Director, Toronto West Stroke Network and Medical Director, OTN Telestroke Programme. "Without Telestroke, these patients would not have access to this effective treatment."

"16.000 people experience a stroke in Ontario each year, at a cost to the economy of $1 billion in medical and other stroke-related costs", noted Dr. Ed Brown, OTN's Chief Executive Officer. "Telestroke not only provides access to a standard of care for patients who currently don't have access to it, but also makes more effective and efficient use of scarce health human resources by providing support for physicians in smaller communities to assess and treat these patients."

Telestroke is available in Brantford, Niagara, Kenora, North Bay, Oshawa, Pembroke, Peterborough, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, and Timmins. Of the 1049 patients assessed in the Telestroke programme to date, 278 patients received t-PA.

The Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) is an independent, not-for-profit organisation funded by the Government of Ontario. Telemedicine is the provision of interactive health care using modern telecommunications technologies. Using two-way videoconferencing systems and tele-diagnostic instruments OTN helps deliver clinical care and professional education among health care providers and patients.


Source: Ontario Telemedicine Network

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