Sunday, May 23, 2010

Advancing Stroke Care

InTouch Health has developed 25 stroke and multispecialty care networks enabling patients to have access to clinical stroke experts at over 300 locations. Today, only two to three percent of stroke patients coming to hospital emergency rooms receive proper care. However, at the Michigan Stroke Network the patients are receiving appropriate treatment at five to six times the national average while using InTouch Health’s Remote Presence.

The real problem according to Jack Weiner, CEO, at St. Joseph Mercy, Oakland is due to the gross misdistribution of specialists. Today, few hospitals have 24/7 access to stroke neurologists for emergency stroke care and even fewer are able to staff one of the 500 neurointerventional specialists qualified to deliver advanced stroke interventions.

InTouch’s Remote Presence enables highly trained stroke specialists to immediately assess patients located at any network hospital which means that 70 percent of the patients within the Michigan Stroke Network are able to stay in their community hospital.

Communication technologies are vital to helping stroke patients but ongoing robotic assisted research is also helping stroke patients. For example, MIT robots are able to deliver high intensity interactive physical therapy to stroke patients according to a study published in the April 16th online issue of “The New England Journal of Medicine” that examined the effectiveness of a class or robotic devices develop at MIT.

They found that in chronic stroke survivors, robot-assisted therapy led to modest improvements in upper-body motor function and improved the quality of life six months after active therapy was completed.

In addition, a three year randomized control trial conducted by the Department of Veterans Affairs with 127 veterans enrolled at four Veterans Affairs hospitals, found that patients who used the MIT robotic device for 12 weeks experienced a small but significant gain in arm function. A group of patients after receiving high intensity therapy from a therapist and matching the number and intensity of the robot movements also showed similar improvements.

In a new stroke research effort, Insera Therapeutics of Sacramento, California received $150,000 through an SBIR grant from the National Science Foundation to develop a revolutionary stroke treatment platform. The device is able to remove blood clots in the brain and is called “Stroke Help using an Endo-Luminal Transcatheter Embolus Retrieval” or referred to as (SHELTER) ™. The device is the industry’s first clot-specific catheter-based platform to treat ischemic strokes. Insera hopes that this platform will help make catheter-based procedures safer and help to prevent the cause of secondary strokes.