When you have a crisis as serious as a stroke, you want the finest care available. When the Joint Commission recently awarded Central Maine its esteemed Primary Stroke Center Certification, inspectors noted that ours was “among the leading programs in the nation.” That honor was affirmed by the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association when they presented us with their Get With the Guidelines—GOLD PLUS Quality Achievement Award for our outstanding stroke treatment.
For you, those awards mean you can depend on us for the finest stroke care in the region. If you suspect you or a family member are having a stroke, call 911 immediately.
Fast Action Saves Lives
When someone is having a stroke, seconds count! Our Emergency Department will quickly assess the situation, then they’ll almost certainly administer a clot-busting drug, either aspirin or an injection of TPA to restore the blood flow. Medications might be sent directly to the brain through a catheter in the groin.
If it’s appropriate, your surgeon will perform a minimally invasive clot removal to remove plaque from your arteries. Some emergency treatment also involves an angioplasty—inserting a small balloon into one of your blood vessels to widen it and improve the blood flow. Or, doctors might insert a stent, a tiny mesh tube to keep the artery open.
For a hemorrhagic stroke, doctors might give you a drug to lower your blood pressure or reduce pressure on your brain. Another common procedure is “clipping,” clamping your aneurysm to stop the bleeding. “Coiling” is another option, where a surgeon inserts a tiny coil into the aneurysm to fill it and block the bleeding. Radiosurgery sometimes works as well, shooting beams of focused radiation into your brain to repair the blood vessels.
Getting a Diagnosis
Firming up a stroke diagnosis is a high-tech affair. Once the crisis is past, your doctors may want to look at your brain through a 64-slice scanner, a machine that provides faster, higher-res images than less cutting-edge scanners, and shows them a detailed, 3-D reconstruction. With this technology, doctors can identify specific parts of the brain that were affected by the stroke but might still respond to treatment.
You might also undergo a MEG (magnetoencephalography) lab test, a safe, non-invasive exam that measures your brain activity. Over the coming days or weeks, you might receive a 3-Tesla MRI scan, which will track the recovery of your brain tissue to see which parts started working normally again after your stroke.
Once you get past the emergency stroke treatment and you’re stabilized, your neurologist will want your rehabilitation to begin as soon as possible. The faster you start your rehab, the more independence and quality of life you’re likely to regain.
Every aspect of your rehab is customized to you, shaped by the collaborations between your medical care team. It’s likely to incorporate these features:
- Occupational therapy, to help you rebuild skills for performing everyday activities. Depending on the severity of your stroke, you may need to re-learn writing, bathing, dressing and other simple tasks.
- Physical therapy, to improve your stamina, minimize your pain, build coordination and balance, and regain control of your extremities.
- Speech and language therapy to strengthen your ability to communicate and, if needed, to swallow.
Most rehab happens on an outpatient basis, available at centers throughout the Central Maine system. We also offer a menu of education options and support groups, both for the stroke patient and his family.