Mixed results for mobile stroke treatment
Small study found that using specialized mobile stroke units roughly halved time taken by doctors to decide on appropriate treatment
EAST HAMPSHIRE, United Kingdom — Treating stroke patients in specialised ambulances en route to hospital could boost the number of patients who receive life-saving therapy, BBC News has reported.
The news is based on a small but well-conducted study looking at whether the time taken to assess and treat stroke patients could be reduced using special "mobile stroke units", which are vehicles kitted out with a mobile brain scanner, lab and experts in assessing strokes. Compared with traditional testing in a hospital, researchers found that being able to scan patients at the site of their stroke roughly halved the time taken to decide on an appropriate treatment. Since (in the case of most strokes) the earlier treatment is given the better the outcome, this study is important.
However, the study was not designed to find out if mobile stroke units improve important outcomes such as the long-term outlook for stroke patients, or their chances of disability or death. A larger study is required to assess whether this approach can improve clinical outcomes in stroke patients. Furthermore, the research was conducted in an urban area of Germany with short journey distances, and more research would need to test whether mobile stroke units have benefits in more remote settings.
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