USA Medical Center’s stroke team includes board-certified neurologists, one of whom is always available to treat patients who arrive at USA Medical Center with stroke symptoms. The clinical team involved in the care of the stroke patient also includes emergency room staff, intensive care staff, medical /surgical staff, physical and occupational therapists, dietitians and social workers.
The stroke team collaborates with emergency medical services, regional emergency rooms and the community to ensure prompt identification of symptoms and implementation of treatment interventions with the goal of reducing long-term impact of stroke.
Stroke Response Team
Early recognition and appropriate treatment of stroke is critical to survival as well as prevention of long-term disability from stroke. The stroke team response starts before the patient reaches the hospital, as the USA Medical Center works closely with local EMS personnel in stroke recognition and treatment. For best patient outcome/results, a patient needs to receive treatment within the first three hours of the onset of symptoms.
Admissions and Referral
For referrals, please call the USA Physicians Referral Line at 800-388-8721 or USA Medical Center at 251-471-7000.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is interrupted. When blood doesn’t get to the brain, the brain’s supply of oxygen and nutrients is cut off. This can cause the affected brain cell to become damaged or die. When brain cells become damaged or die, the functions they controlled are impaired or lost.
Every 45 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. It is the third leading cause of death and the number one cause of disability in the United States. More than two-thirds of stroke survivors experience some kind of disability. However, 80 percent of all strokes are preventable!
Types of Stroke
There are two types of strokes – ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic stroke occurs when blood clots or fatty deposits block blood vessels that supply blood to the brain. This is the most common type of stroke. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel inside the brain or on the brain’s surface ruptures. This cuts off the blood supply to the brain cells. Pooling blood from the rupture can also damage brain tissue.
Some people experience a transient ischemic attack (TIA), more commonly referred to as “mini-strokes.” These mild attacks result from a brief interruption of blood flow to the brain with symptoms lasting less than 24 hours. There is a 3-17 percent risk of having a stroke within 30 days after experiencing a TIA.
Symptoms of stroke:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe, acute headache with no known cause
It is important that anyone who experiences one or more symptoms act fast – call 911 and get to a hospital immediately.
Know Your Risk Factors
Stroke Risk factors that cannot be changed include:
- Age (3/4 of all strokes occur in individuals over age 65)
- Race (African-Americans are at a high risk for stroke)
- Family history of stroke
- Gender (Males have an increased risk for stroke)
Stroke Risk factors that CAN be changed:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Heavy alcohol consumption
- Physical inactivity
- High cholesterol
- Drug abuse
- Head and neck injuries
The best way to decrease your risk factors of stroke is to identify those you have and eliminate those under your control. Not all risk factors are controllable, but lifestyle changes such as controlling high blood pressure and stopping smoking may significantly decrease your stroke risk factors. It is easier to prevent a stroke than to treat a stroke.
Stroke Treatment Centers
Stroke treatment centers such as USA Medical Center employ modern therapies that include specially trained physicians and health care providers, special drugs, and brain imaging equipment to improve outcomes for patients experiencing stroke. Utilizing modern therapies often prevents nerve damage by reversing the stroke damage before permanent damage has occurred.
Leaving the Hospital After A Stroke
Before the stroke patient is discharged from USA Medical Center, the Stroke Team is committed to helping make the transition from the hospital to the home a smooth one. Stroke patients and their families experience many challenges after a stroke and our goal is to assist in the journey. USA Medical Center hosts a stroke support group for the survivor and caregiver.
South Alabama Regional Stroke Support Group
The South Alabama Regional Stroke Support Group meets the 3rd Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the USA Medical Center third floor radiology classroom The mission is to offer support and assistance to stroke survivors and caregivers. Meetings are open to the community free of charge. The group consists of stroke survivors, caregivers and people with an interest in preventing a stroke. Each month the topic varies, focusing on stroke prevention or health issues. Please call (251) 471- 7671 for additional information.