National Study Aims to Prove Value of Mobile Stroke Units

High-tech vehicles bring the hospital to patients to improve outcomes and efficiency

(LOS ANGELES, California) – When treating stroke victims, every second counts. But in large cities, dense traffic can make it difficult to get a patient to the emergency room in a timely manner, and in rural areas, specialized care can be miles away. So UCLA Health is testing a new, hi-tech “mobile stroke unit” to help medical personnel start treatment in the field, potentially leading to higher survival rates and better outcomes for patients.

“The goal is to reach the patient and start treatment in what’s known as the “golden hour,” or the first hour after a stroke occurs,” said May Nour, MD, PhD, medical director of the mobile stroke unit at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. “A few minutes can be the difference between a father spending the rest of his days with his family and walking his daughter down the aisle, or spending the rest of his life in a nursing home.”     

UCLA Health is now part of national study to test the value of starting stroke care in the field. “When stroke victims are not treated quickly, they are more likely to need a lifetime of costly care,” said Nour. “If we are able to treat and improve outcomes for 25 patients over a 5-year period, we will break even on the cost of the mobile stroke unit.”

The vehicles bring the hospital to the patient, allowing doctors to make a diagnosis, administer medication and even conduct CT scans before arriving at the hospital.

“A mobile stroke unit can go out to a region where there’s no CT scanner and rendezvous halfway with an ambulance,” said Jeffrey Saver, MD, a neurologist at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. “A team of experts in the mobile stroke unit brings proven stroke care straight to the patient, giving them a much better chance of living a longer, healthier life.”

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UCLA Health’s Mobile Stroke Unit brings the hospital to the patient so doctors can make a diagnosis quickly and start treatment as soon as possible.

Patients can begin treatment inside UCLA Health’s Mobile Stroke Unit, where the medical team can perform tests, start IVs and conduct head and neck CT scans, all before arriving at the hospital.

May Nour, MD, PhD can review brain images from CT scans performed inside UCLA Health’s Mobile Stroke Unit, which allows a medical team to bring specialized medication and equipment to stroke victims so treatment can start as soon as possible.

UCLA Health’s Mobile Stroke Unit rushes through the streets of Los Angeles to reach stroke victims as soon as possible. Experts say these vehicles can start treatment sooner in busy cities, and that they could also have a huge impact in rural areas where specialized care may be miles away.

Dr. May Nour, MD, PhD, demonstrates what happens when a stroke patient arrives at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. The patient would have already been already been treated using the specialized equipment on board UCLA Health’s Mobile Stroke Unit, including blood-clot-busting medication and a head and neck CT scan machine.

Mobile Stroke Unit specialists can perform head and neck cat scans inside UCLA Health’s Mobile Stroke Unit, which allows a medical team to bring the hospital to the patient and start treatment sooner.

UCLA Health is part of a national study to evaluate the cost effectiveness of Mobile Stroke Units, which begin stroke care in the field to improve patient outcomes.

UCLA Health