Stroke patients in rural areas of the United States can be assessed and treated as well by a neurologist via a wireless Internet program as they can in person.
That good news comes from a study in the October online issue of Stroke.
Treatment through this Internet-based program includes the use of the clot-busting drug tPA, when appropriate, to help rapidly dissolve stroke-causing clots and reduce brain damage.
The study compared in-person medical exams of 20 stroke patients over a six-month period with patients assessed using the Web-based system, called Remote Evaluation for Acute Ischemic Stroke (REACH).
REACH lets neurologists hear and see the patients in real time. The neurologists also have immediate access to computerized tomography (CT) scan images taken to help pinpoint the cause or location of a stroke.
The study found no significant difference in the diagnosis and subsequent treatment recommendations made by neurologists in person and those made via the REACH system.
"We can literally be there at the speed of light," principal author Sam Wang, research scientist at Medical College of Georgia and REACH developer, says in a news release.