Speaking at the Young Stroke Retreat in North Carolina and having dinner with the Young Stroke Foundation Founder last week brought me further evidence of the uneven patch of stroke resources that exist across our nation. Most of my recent personal experience has been in SW Florida where two Comprehensive Stroke Centers exist thirty miles apart which is supplemented by several Primary Centers in the area. Complementing that, EMS has a robust protocol and in some cases utilizes telemedicine to speed diagnoses before hospital entry.
That is not the case across the nation. In South Carolina, the state with the highest percentage incidence of stroke and where most of the Retreat participants reside surprisingly has less clarity about Stroke Centers particularly in rural areas of which there are many. Also, the EMS protocols are not as clear as they are in Florida. In neighboring state North Carolina where the Young Stroke organization is headquartered, there are several comprehensive centers and the EMS protocol is stronger.
All of this reminds me of my book’s (Stroke Victor) advice that we all should have a “Stroke Plan” which entails knowing before the fact where the closest stroke center is located. We should also know the signs of stroke so that EMS is called promptly. Time is brain!
At the retreat it was mentioned that in South Carolina 54% of strokes were in people under the age of 65, a high for the nation. Obesity and poor fitness of the population were identified as important factors of this deplorable statistic.
I spoke about my Foundation – Stroke Recovery Foundation and its mission of improving post stroke lifestyles and maximizing stroke outcomes. The group was highly supportive understanding that there is a need for more therapy resources, particularly in S Carolina.
Several of the other presentations were educational in nature, there was a report on a research study in progress at the University of S Carolina and several survivors told their stories of recovery. A lack of consistent services was a constant thread of the presentations.
Advocacy was a big topic as it is lacking in the field of stroke.