The UTHealth Mobile Stroke Unit has reportedly transported and helped save the life of its first patient. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) Medical School, in partnership with Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center (TMC), made the announcement in a recent news release.

The release notes that the unit is a specially-equipped ambulance with a CT scanner designed to allow a stroke unit team member to quickly assess whether a patient is having a stroke caused by a blood clot and if so, the clot-buster tPA can be administered. Since it became fully licensed and ready to go live last month, the release says, the unit was dispatched for the first time to the home of Maureen Osaka when a 911 call was received from a friend reporting Osaka’s stroke-like symptoms.

The mobile stroke unit team assessed Osaka upon arrival and moved her into the ambulance and immediately began the CT scan. According to the release, within minutes the team was able to confirm that Osaka had a basilar artery occlusion.

The team was then able to administer tPA treatment on site before the ambulance left the scene.

“The type of stroke that Ms. Osaka suffered is often difficult to diagnose, so in addition to speeding treatment, the Mobile Stroke Unit brings specialized stroke expertise right to the patient’s home at a time when it is needed most,” explains James C. Grotta, MD, the neurologist who led the team that treated Osaka.

Watch a video about the mobile stroke unit

Grotta was inspired to bring the concept of a mobile stroke unit to Houston in order to enhance the quality of recognized stroke care already delivered at Memorial Hermann-TMC and UTHealth, after he had observed a similar unit in the country of Germany. Grotta presented the idea to the UTHealth Development Board and partnered with Frazer Ltd, a company that builds emergency vehicles. Generous donations then helped bring the stroke unit to fruition and it was officially unveiled this past February.

The release reports that the stroke unit is run in conjunction with the Emergency Medical Services of the Houston Fire Department, Bellaire Fire Department, and West University Fire Department. The unit carries a paramedic, neurologist, nurse, and CT technician and runs alternate weeks as part of a clinical trial at UTHealth. The release notes that the trial is expected to last 3 years and includes the telemedicine program that is part of UTHealth and the Mischer Neuroscience Institute at Memorial Hermann-TMC.

Photo credit: Memorial Hermann

Source: Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center