Can bystanders play an essential role in diagnosing stroke?

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Can bystanders play an essential role in diagnosing stroke?

Stroke is a condition occurring due to lack of oxygen to the brain and may lead to coma, paralysis (reversible or irreversible), speech defects and dementia (loss of memory). Due to the lack of oxygen the brain is starving minute by minute. Therefore, to ensure full recovery it is essential that the patient receive appropriate medical treatment timely.

The damage to the nerve cells in the brain is often due to interrupted blood flow caused by a blood clot or rupture of the blood vessel. A clot-busting drug has been discovered which helps to limit the disability due to stroke caused by a blood clot (ischemic stroke). But the therapy is effective only if given within three hours of the onset of the stroke symptoms. Hence, it is important that the stroke patients are identified and sent to hospital as soon as possible.

Recently a study was conducted to assess whether the general public can efficiently conduct a three-item examination test for stroke, before the patient can be transferred to the hospital. The test is called Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale (CPSS). This is a simple and quick test (takes less than one minute) and has helped healthcare professionals to accurately identify stroke patients. With the help of this test the bystanders may help to identify someone having a stroke by checking if the person can smile, raise both arms and hold them up and speak a sentence clearly.

The study conducted showed that bystanders were able to administer the CPSS directions correctly 96% of the times. They were able to identify the arm weakness and slurred speech more easily as compared to facial weakness. The probable reason for this could be because it’s a bit difficult to assess a stranger’s smile (here one has to note, the deviation in the angle of the mouth) but the bystander may readily observe the change in smile if the patient is someone known to him.

Therefore, by remembering this three-item examination the bystanders may play an influential role in providing appropriate and timely treatment to the stroke patients

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