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IU Health to launch state's 1st mobile stroke treatment unit

Indianapolis-based IU Health will launch the state's first and only mobile stroke treatment unit, a specialized vehicle with equipment capable of diagnosing and treating a stroke on-scene, according to a March 26 press release.

The unit serves as "a mini, neuro ICU on wheels," Jason Mackey, MD, a neurologist with IU Health and key player in launching the Mobile Stroke Treatment Unit, said.

IU Health's unit, which is one of fewer than 10 across the country, is set to launch next month and aims to reduce the long-term effects of stroke and decrease deaths from stroke. The unit will be staffed with a neurologist, nurse, CT technician, paramedic and emergency medical technician.

IU Health worked closely with Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services to develop the program. The unit will be dispatched through the 911 system to potential stroke patients and is intended to complement other emergency services rather than replace them.

When the unit arrives, the patient will be loaded inside and given a complete evaluation, including blood work. A CT scan will be administered and the neurologist will determine whether the patient has a clot or blockage, or brain bleed. If the patient has a clot, medicine will be administered immediately. The mobile stroke unit expects to save 30 minutes of response time on average.

"Minute after minute after minute counts," Dr. Mackey said. "The idea here is to reduce the amount of time it takes to get somebody properly evaluated with a CT scanner, with a neurologist and then treat them as quickly as possible to reduce the amount of brain tissue that is lost."

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