Strokes are the 4th leading cause of death in Kansas. Every year about 800,000 people have a stroke in America, and even more are left with serious complications.

“Stroke is one of the leading causes of disabilities in the U.S. and in Kansas it’s even more so. It’s really even more of a leading cause of disability than death,” explains Dr. Aaron Watters, the Medical Director at Newman Regional Health in Emporia.  

Time is of the essence during a stroke. Which is why, especially in complicated cases, connecting with neurological specialists right away, is crucial.

“If it’s a more difficult case, we can have the consult with the neurology people, and (then) the doctors can collaborate and find out what’s the best plan for the patient,” explains Damian O’Keefe, the Emergency Room Director at Newman Regional Health.   

But for people who live in rural parts of the state, it’s challenging. That’s why Newman Regional Health has found a new way to connect patients with stroke specialists.  The hospital just got a InTouch Health Telestroke Robot.

“We do not have a neurologist in town, so we use our partners at Stormont Vail and KU Med, who provided this piece of equipment, which is basically the eyes and ears of the neurologist at KU Med Center. Sometimes it’s not quite so clear cut and we have a complicated stroke. So we can talk directly to the head neurologist at KU Med Center through the screen. Basically what happens with this screen is it’s and interactive computer. They get to see the patients (and) they have me do the exam. So they can see my neurological exam as I am performing it. And we can discuss right then and there what to do and how to do it,” said Dr. Watturs.  

And so far, it’s working!

“If it’s a clear cut case, a lot of times (we) won’t use it. But it’s a tool that’s there in the event that they need additional resources.  I think overall our outcomes with stroke patients has improved, because our processes have improved,” boasts O’Keefe. 

New technology, paving the way for a future of medical advancements that decrease deaths and complications from stroke.