Thrive by IU Health

December 02, 2021

Technology and philanthropy team up to help central Indiana stroke patients

Technology and philanthropy team up to help central Indiana stroke patients

In the event of a stroke, every second is critical. But every moment of being transported to emergency care means millions of neurons are at risk. That’s why the IU Health Mobile Stroke Unit (MSU) is ready to treat stroke patients in the field, reducing time to treatment by as much as half an hour, and improving outcomes drastically.

The MSU, funded by IU Health Foundation, is called out alongside a traditional ambulance when a stroke is suspected. Experts can assess for signs of stroke in minutes and begin providing life-saving care immediately.

IU Health Mobile Stroke Unit

Jason Mackey, MD is an IU Health neurologist and a leading researcher in stroke care. In a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Mackey says an IU Health-led study shows evidence that faster treatment, like that provided by the MSU, leads to better outcomes, resulting in a reduction in disabilities, and a rise in functionality.

IU Health Neurologist Jason Mackey, MD

But Dr. Mackey says the MSU is just one area in which IU Health is making strides in stroke care. He also points to advances in surgical procedures to remove life-threatening blood clots. “It's probably the most effective treatment we have,” he says. “But up until five years ago, we didn't have the evidence base for that. Now we do. Initially, if somebody was last normal within six hours, they could potentially have the surgery. In the last three years, that window has widened to 24 hours. It’s an absolute revolution.”

Continuing that revolution in stroke care is the IU Health Neurorehabilitation and Robotics lab. Kathryn Gyves, PT, DPT, is a physical therapist who specializes in neurological rehabilitation, including recovery from a stroke. She says that stroke patients come from all over Indiana to utilize the state-of-the-art technology found within the lab. “These robotics aren't offered anywhere else in the state,” she says. “With them, we can work on that precise movement and get that constant repetition that is so important following a stroke. It’s the key to success in recovery.”

IU Health Physical Therapist Kathryn Gyves, PT, DPT

But none of these advances would have been possible without philanthropy. “This program would not exist without the generous donations and support from the community,” Gyves says. “If you think about how often technology is evolving, there's always something new coming to market. It requires constant maintenance to keep this clinic running with some of the most advanced equipment in this state.”

IU Health Neurorehabilitation and Robotics lab

Dr. Mackey agrees. “The thing about this sort of innovation is that there's no reimbursement mechanism. You need philanthropy to help get these things going. Otherwise, there would be no innovations. These sorts of gifts are crucial to making a program like this work.”

If you would like to make a gift to support the Mobile Stroke Unit, the Neurorehabilitation and Robotics lab, or overall stroke care at IU Health, please IU Health Foundation Development Officer Jeffrey Roth at 317.416.4663.