Rockford doctors use high-tech equipment to help stroke patients

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Following the death of 52-year-old actor Luke Perry, local medical professionals want to people to remember that a stroke can happen at any age. Local doctors are using state of the art technology to be prepared for stroke patients.

In any medical emergency, paramedics have to be ready to act fast and take care of the patient properly, that's why Mercyhealth trains its paramedic students in a simulator lab.

"We want the paramedics to have a certain level of comfort before they are out on the street taking care of these stroke patients," said Matthew Smetana, associate EMS medical director, Mercyhealth.

The SIM lab mannequin is controlled by a computer that allows paramedics to do real tests and see real reactions. This is very valuable because starting treatments on the way to the hospital can make all the difference. 

"There is a three-hour window of opportunity to give them the clot-buster medication to break the clot that's causing the damage and hopefully reverse the damage that happened," said Dr. Akram Shhadeh, interventional neurologist, OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center.

OSF uses a machine that can take a picture of the brain. Doctors can then either pull the blood clot out or patch up space where the bleeding is.

"Lots of stroke centers now are able to reverse the damage that is happening from an ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke if they get to the hospital on time," Shhadeh said.

Doctors say it's important to be aware if you are at risk and to speak with your primary physician as strokes are the 5th leading cause of death in America.