RARITAN TWP., NJ - Stroke patients in Hunterdon and surrounding counties have better odds for a successful recovery, thanks to a state-of-the-art TeleNeurology robot. Hunterdon Medical Center is now using the new mobile unit in the Emergency Department when a stroke is suspected. 

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the number one cause for serious disability. Each year, more than 140,000 Americans die from a stroke. A stroke occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen for a period of time as a result of an obstruction in blood flow or the rupture of an artery that feeds the brain. A stroke causes brain cells to suddenly die and brain damage results. A patient may lose the ability to speak, have memory problems or become paralyzed.

At first it appears similar to beginning a conversation via Skype, but it is far more superior. The robot can be wheeled into the patient’s room and has a monitor where the neurologist appears on a screen and can assess the patient. The neurologist is able to remotely turn the robot’s head to better view the patient and zoom in to see their pupils or other vital signs. He also has the ability to talk to the patient and staff via the robot. The robot allows the physician to conduct the same kind of neurologic exam as if he were physically in the same room as the patient. During the consultation, the emergency physician relays the physical findings and shares images so both specialists can discuss the best treatment plan for the patient. 

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 “When a patient comes in and has shown symptoms of a stroke, they require immediate medical attention. We often say, ‘time equals brain.’ Using the robot allows our Emergency Department physicians to have our on-call neurologist remote into the room from anywhere to help evaluate the patient. The sooner treatment is started, the better. We can administer tPA - a clot busting medication - up to 4.5 hours of onset symptoms. with only a few exceptions. The access to the teleneurology consult will improve treatment time and have a profound influence on patient care outcomes,” explained Dr. Edward Spector, Medical Director, Hunterdon Medical Center’s Emergency Department. 

Hunterdon Medical Center’s Emergency Department is designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the state Department of Health and Senior Services. This designation is based on Hunterdon Medical Center’s comprehensive capabilities to rapidly identify, evaluate and treat stroke patients, by providing clot-busting medications, such as tPA, based on national recommendations. 

“Our new TeleNeurology solution will enable physicians and specialists to conduct remote consults with two-way audiovisual, clinical data and medical imaging, all from an iPad, laptop or desktop computer," said Lawrence Grand, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Hunterdon Medical Center. "The systems will allow a doctor to remotely coordinate patient care in real-time leading to improved quality and decreased decision-making time. We understand that the timeliness of a diagnosis and treatment of a stroke is critical to achieve the best outcomes. By using the TeleNeurology technology it allows us to provide the highest level of care in our community.”

Grand leads the neurosciences strategic initiatives for Hunterdon Healthcare.   

Providing timely expertise in the care of critically ill patients is one of the main goals of critical care medicine. Hunterdon Medical Center will also use the robot in the Intensive Care Unit which will allow the critical care specialists to be in the room evaluating their patient at a moment’s notice.

For more information on Hunterdon Healthcare’s Neurosciences, visit www.hunterdonhealthcare.org.