Mobile stroke unit brings expedited care to the ‘Stroke Belt’

The University of Tennessee College of Medicine today announced the launch of a new mobile stroke response facility designed to quickly and efficiently diagnose and treat victims of stroke using advanced imaging and CT angiography.

The unit gives doctors onsite the ability to begin critical treatment such as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) treatment within the first-hour of a stroke, as well as identifying patients for endovascular interventions and neurosurgery.

“The goal of the Mobile Stroke Unit is to minimize morbidity and mortality, to have more patients walk out of the hospital fully functional,” said David Stern MD, Robert Kaplan Executive Dean and Vice-Chancellor for Clinical Affairs for The University of Tennessee College of Medicine, in a university press release. “Time is everything for stroke treatment; the quicker we are able to assess and attend to a patient, the better his or her chances are for recovery.”

The 14-ton vehicle is outfitted with state-of-the art imaging equipment and capabilities, according to the university, including:

  • A hospital-quality CT scanner with advanced imaging capabilities to not only allow brain imaging, but also imaging of blood vessels in the brain.
  • Due to advanced imaging capabilities, the mobile stroke unit will be able to bypass hospital emergency departments and take patients directly to endovascular suites, operating rooms, stroke or neurocritical units.
  • The largest mobile stroke unit in the world, complete with an internal power source capable of matching regular electrical outlet access.
  • The first in the world to be staffed with stroke fellowship-trained, doctorally-prepared nurses certified as advanced neurovascular practitioners, ANVP-BC.
  • The ability to transport trainees and researchers interested in building the science of early stroke management.

The mobile stroke unit is the first to hit the streets in the so-called “Stroke Belt” in the southern United States and will service a 10-mile high-risk area in Memphis, Tenn., where stroke incidence is 37 percent higher than the national average, beginning in April.