Charles Gadberry – Teleneurology and Stroke Patient Success Story

Long-distance diagnosis – teleneurology helps identify stroke

undefinedWhen Charles Gadberry arrived at Methodist Mansfield Medical Center with stroke symptoms, he never imagined that the doctor confirming his diagnosis would be in Maryland. But that’s exactly what happened.

“Shortly after my CT scan, they said they were going to get a conference call going with a doctor in Baltimore,” says Gadberry, 72. “A few minutes later, we had him on the phone and on the television set right there. He told me I’d had a stroke and explained what my treatment options were.

“I thought it was amazing technology. Looking back, it’s hard to believe how far medicine has come in the past 70 years.”

High-tech examinations

This new technology is called teleneurology. Through specialized videoconferencing and by transmitting digital test results, neurologists from around the country can collaborate and examine a patient.

“It’s almost as if they were in the same room,” says Ketan Trivedi, MD, medical director of the emergency department (ED) at Methodist Mansfield. “Their audiovisual capabilities with this system are so advanced that they can zoom in and check pupillary reflexes in the eyes and see if there is a weakness in an arm or leg or if a smile or face is drooping.”

While Methodist Mansfield has on-call neurologists, teleneurology can often expedite patient evaluations, enabling the ED staff to deliver lifesaving treatments, such as the clot-busting drug TPA (tissue plasminogen activator), in a timelier manner. That fast treatment had a dramatic effect on Gadberry, quickly relieving his slurred speech and impeded movement in his arm.

“From a physician perspective, it’s a boon to have that live interaction with a neurologist,” Dr. Trivedi says. “The collaboration is fantastic.”

Taking action

undefinedAfter two days in the intensive care unit and two additional days in recovery, Gadberry went home and is seeing a neurologist to make sure stroke doesn’t strike again. His wife of five years, Donna Faries, is relieved to have her husband back home safe.

“I didn’t want to lose him,” she says. “He’s definitely a keeper. While I was worried to death, I knew he was in the right place. He had a lot of good doctors and nurses.”

Dr. Trivedi credits the other medical professionals on the Methodist Mansfield team, as well, who performed every element of Gadberry’s treatment promptly and by the book. But he also praises Gadberry for his wise actions.

“Unlike most stroke cases, Charles noticed something was really wrong and sought emergency help for it immediately,” Dr. Trivedi says. “Oftentimes, unfortunately, people sense that there is a problem but think, ‘If I just rest for a few hours, I will feel better.’ This is an error that costs patients valuable time. However, if they act fast and call 911, they, like Charles, can more easily fall inside stroke’s narrow window of treatment time.”

Learn more about recognizing stroke symptoms and taking action F.A.S.T.

From the winter 2012 edition of Shine magazine.