Telehealth to transform stroke treatment

Stroke Foundation welcomed the announcement of the New South Wales (NSW) Telestroke Service expansion into Shoalhaven, saying it would revolutionise emergency stroke treatment on the NSW South Coast.

The Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital is one of up to 23 rural and regional NSW hospitals to be included in the service’s roll out. The NSW Telestroke Service, coordinated by the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, will speed up diagnosis and support regional clinicians in deciding the best care for the patient which may include blood clot dissolving treatment or transfer for more specialist stroke care.

Stroke Foundation NSW State Manager Rhian Paton Kelly said telehealth was being relied on more than ever in this time of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the NSW Telestroke Service demonstrated the technology’s value extended well beyond the current pandemic.

“This telestroke service is much needed. It will have an enormous impact by removing barriers to time-critical stroke treatment that saves lives and reduces lifelong disability,” she said.

“When a stroke strikes, it kills up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute, but treatment can stop this damage. Time saved in accessing stroke treatment is brain saved.”

The Shoalhaven region was among Australia’s top 10 hotspots for stroke. A Stroke Foundation report found an estimated 225 residents of the Gilmore Electorate experienced a stroke for the first time in 2020.

Ms Paton-Kelly said people living in regional and rural NSW will have access to the best in stroke treatment through the Telestroke Service, but to benefit, patients must reach hospital.

“The first step in ensuring better outcomes from stroke is getting to hospital quickly, and that means recognising the F.A.S.T. (Face. Arms. Speech. Time) signs and calling triple zero (000) straight away,” she said.

“I urge everyone to learn the F.A.S.T. message and share it with your friends, family and colleagues.”

Stroke Foundation is proud to partner with NSW Health in supporting the service’s roll out. This includes delivering F.A.S.T. (Face. Arms. Speech and Time) signs of stroke community education in the state’s regions.

The NSW Telestroke Service is funded in partnership by the Federal and State Government.

The F.A.S.T. test is a simple way we can all learn and remember the signs of stroke:

Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

Arms: Can they lift both arms?

Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call triple zero (000) straight away.

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