Strokes occur frequently in the US – once every 40 seconds, to be exact, with an American dying from stroke complications every four minutes. Stroke is now the fifth leading cause of death in this country, and number one in much of the world. Although many people survive a stroke, even multiple episodes, stroke is still the leading cause of disability and thus a care priority at Cleveland Clinic.
To combat the permanent nerve cell damage that results from stroke, in 2014, Cleveland Clinic launched one of the first mobile stroke unit programs in the country. Using specially equipped ambulances, outfitted with all the necessary elements for emergency evaluation and treatment of stroke, mobile stroke units began bringing the highest level of care directly to the patient, with the ultimate goal of shortening the time between the onset of stroke-like symptoms and the delivery of “clot-busting” – or thrombolytic – drugs.
At the 2014 Medical Innovation Summit, Cleveland Clinic experts dubbed the ‘Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit’ the #1 Top 10 Medical Innovation for the year 2015. Since then, the units have indeed made waves in stroke care, officially showing improved functional outcomes relative to treatment with traditional ambulance transport to an emergency department (ED) (2019 findings of a prospective nonrandomized study by Cleveland Clinic Cerebrovascular Center researchers).
Last week, early adopter of the innovation and Medical Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center and Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit at Cleveland Clinic, Andrew Russman, DO, shared his insights on mobile stroke care in the newest episode of Cleveland Clinic’s Neuro Pathways podcast. In the interview, Dr. Russman discusses collaborating with municipalities and identifying a mobile stroke unit’s coverage area, cost-effectiveness of providing a mobile stroke unit, how patients with intracerebral hemorrhage are managed on the mobile unit, and other general program updates since its launch and Top 10 placement nearly seven years ago.
Read more about the Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit, 2019 study findings, and its placement on the Top 10 list.