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Acad Emerg Med. 1998 Apr;5(4):352-8.

Ensuring the chain of recovery for stroke in your community.

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Allegheny University of the Health Sciences, Allegheny University Hospitals, Allegheny General, Pittsburgh, PA 15212-4772, USA.


Until recently, the prehospital and ED management of nonhemorrhagic stroke was largely supportive care. Studies have now demonstrated the potential of certain therapeutic interventions to reverse the debilitating consequences of such strokes. The clinical benefit for such interventions and the risk of significant therapeutic complications are highly time-dependent. To optimize the chances of a better outcome for the patient with stroke, each community must establish and continue to refine a chain of recovery for stroke patients. The chain of recovery is a metaphor that describes a series of sequential actions that must take place in a timely fashion to optimize the chances of recovery from stroke. Each of these sequential actions forms an individual link in the chain, and each link must be intact. The links include: identification of the onset of stroke symptoms by the patient or bystanders; dispatch life support services, which preferably include enhanced 9-1-1 and medically supervised and trained dispatchers who can rapidly deploy the closest responders and transport units; emergency medical services (EMS) personnel who can rapidly assess and transport the stroke patient to the closest appropriate center capable of providing advanced stroke diagnostics and interventions; en route notification of the receiving facility so that appropriate personnel can be readied for rapid diagnosis and intervention; and receiving facilities capable of providing rapid diagnosis and advanced treatment of stroke, including the availability of specialists who can evaluate underlying etiologies as well as plan future therapies and rehabilitation. To ensure that the chain of recovery is in place, aggressive public education campaigns should be implemented to increase the probability that stroke symptoms and signs will be recognized as soon as possible by patients and bystanders. In addition, because most of the current training programs for EMS dispatchers and EMS personnel are lacking with regard to stroke, it is recommended that such personnel and their EMS system managers be updated on current management and treatment strategies for stroke.

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