NCH Wingard Stroke Institute Participates in an Innovative Stroke Evaluation Pilot Study to Deliver Faster Evaluations for Patients

Paul Hiltz, President/CEO, FACHE

Every 40 seconds, someone suffers a stroke. While strokes are often associated with older individuals, they can strike at any age. Nationwide, itis the fourth leading cause of death, and strokes kill twice as many women every year than breast cancer. Nearly 795,000 people suffer a stroke every year – resulting in approximately 133,000 deaths.

But there is hope. An astonishing 80% of strokes are preventable, and there are 7 million stroke survivors. NCH is taking a significant stride towards improving these survival rates through its participation in a two-month blinded trial in collaboration with MindRhythm, a medical technology company dedicated to preventing neurological injury. This collaborative effort, conducted in partnership with Collier County EMS, centers around a groundbreaking system designed for the swift diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients right in the field.

The best first response to a stroke is time. This is because once a blood clot forms, blood flow is restricted. And when blood flow to the brain is impeded, 12 million brain cells die every minute that passes without treatment. When you observe the signs of a stroke, call an ambulance, as EMTs can begin evaluation and treatment immediately.

There are two major types of strokes. The first involves a blockage of a large artery in the brain, referred to as a large vesselocclusion (LVO) stroke. The second type is characterized by the blockage of a smaller artery in the brain, known as non-LVO. For LVO strokes, the standard treatment is a mechanical thrombectomy, which is a minimally invasive procedure involving the physical removal of a blood clot from the artery using a catheter inserted through the groin.

Non-LVO strokes, on the other hand, can be treated effectively with clot-dissolving medications, tPAs, and medical therapy. However, the critical need for rapid action applies to both types of strokes, from the onset of symptoms to the initiation of treatment.

Presently, the only way to determine if a patient has an LVO is to wait for them to reach the hospital. After their arrival, multiple CT scans are performed to visualize the blood vessels and ascertain the presence of an LVO. However, now, when a patient dials 911, the responding emergency staff can equip the patient with a MindRhythm Harmony headset, which provides a ‘cranial accelerogram.’ This device detects the pulsations of the arteries in the brain. Normal pulsations indicate an absence of blockage, while irregularities signify an LVO. This enables us to detect the presence of an LVO right in the field, even before the patient arrives at the hospital. It’s a significant breakthrough.

If the headset indicates the likelihood of an LVO, the NCH surgical team and operating room are prepared and waiting for the patient’s arrival at the hospital, streamlining the evaluation and treatment process. This approach shaves off approximately 60 crucial minutes in the treatment timeline, which can make a substantial difference in patient outcomes.

Following the trial, an independent third party will meticulously scrutinize the data and present the results. This groundbreaking collaboration between NCH and MindRhythm represents a giant leap forward in the realm of stroke care, offering patients faster evaluation and treatment, ultimately improving their chances of survival.

For more information about this initiative, please visit

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