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Memorial Brain Attack Team Provides Prompt Intervention
for 57-Year-Old Stroke Victim


May 2005 — Willie had loaded the lawnmower into his truck and was headed to his parents' house to cut grass. But when he got behind the wheel that hot July afternoon, his hand was too weak to turn the key. The last thing he recalls is getting out of the truck and walking a few steps. "The next thing I knew, I was in the hospital," the 57-year-old says.

A neighbor called 911 and Willie, who was unable to talk or move his right hand or leg, was taken to Memorial Hospital West. The hospital's specially trained Brain Attack Team worked quickly to determine the severity of his stroke and administer tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA), a powerful clot-buster that reduces the potential for permanent disability. After receiving it, Willie says his speech and mobility began to come back.

Following three to four months of physical and speech therapy at Memorial Hospital West Fitness Center, Willie felt well enough to return to light duties at the company where he had worked as a courier for 18 years.

Prompt, Coordinated Care

Time is of the essence with stroke treatment. The 24-Hour Brain Attack Teams at both Memorial Regional Hospital and Memorial Hospital West work in collaboration with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to provide a prompt, coordinated approach to stroke treatment in South Broward County.

Nationally, only 2 to 3 percent of patients who could benefit from t-PA receive it because many delay calling for help, deciding instead to talk to a friend about their symptoms or waiting to see how they feel in the morning. But this stroke medication can be administered intravenously at Memorial Regional Hospital and Memorial Hospital West within three hours of symptom onset. Additionally, Memorial Regional Hospital has one of only a few neuro-interventionalists in the United States qualified to administer t-PA intra-arterially within three to six hours of symptom onset.

"Many patients who could benefit from this therapy do not get to a hospital quickly enough upon symptom onset," says Diego Rielo, MD, Stroke Program Director at Memorial Hospital West. "The main reason for this is their lack of knowledge about stroke and the opportunity for effective treatment."

A New Lease on Life

Prior to his stroke, Willie went through approximately a carton of cigarettes a week, and says that his only medical problem was high blood pressure. Smoking and high blood pressure are stroke risk factors, as are high cholesterol and physical inactivity. Today, Willie walks at least a mile four or five days a week, and is working toward his goal to stop smoking for good — a resolution that his two daughters in Atlanta strongly encourage.

Willie feels fortunate. He has his life back and is pursuing his favorite hobbies. "I love cooking," he shares. He also has rediscovered his love for jigsaw puzzles, since assembling them during therapy helped him regain dexterity in his right hand.

Willie may return full-time to his job in the coming months. Meanwhile, he's feeling so much healthier that he has decided to take up sport fishing and karate. "I feel really good," he says.

Memorial physicians are committed to putting the patient's needs first. To find a physician specialized in stroke treatment services, call Memorial Physician Referral Service toll-free at (800) 944-DOCS. We're available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.