Emergency medicine physicians are specially trained to evaluate and treat conditions that need immediate attention. An emergency room physician is usually the first member of the Stroke Team to evaluate a patient who has suffered a stroke. The ER physicians will order laboratory tests and CT scans or MRIs, and will consult with a neurologist either in person, or via the Acute TeleStroke Network, to determine the best initial treatment for the patient.
A neurologist is a physician who has extra training and expertise in treating conditions of the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord and nerves). The neurologist works closely with the emergency room physician to perform a neurologic exam on the patient who has suffered a stroke. This evaluation is critical in determining how the stroke has affected the patient and the best treatment.
Physician Assistant, Nurse Practitioner, Registered Nurse
These health-care providers have special training and considerable experience in caring for stroke patients. A physician assistant, advance practice nurse or registered nurse functions as an integral part of the Stroke Team and often participates in the treatment evaluation. They are particularly well qualified to support emergency room staff members.
Stroke-Trained Nursing Staff
At Swedish, we have specially trained nurses who care for stroke patients when they are first seen in the emergency department or when they have been hospitalized in our designated stroke units. These nurses are certified in both the National Institutes of Health Stroke Screening and the Swallow Stroke Screening – two tools that are used to assess stroke patients.
A neuroradiologist is a radiologist who has received additional, specialized training. A neuroradiologist evaluates diagnostic images of the brain and spine, and also administers image-guided, minimally invasive therapies to treat conditions of the brain. The neuroradiologist is an important member of the Stroke Team because he helps determine where the stroke occurred in the brain and how much damage there was. The neuroradiologist prepares a report of his analysis for the neurologist.
Laboratory and Pharmacy Staff
Laboratory staff perform important tests and analyze the results. These test results help the neurologist determine the severity of the patient’s condition and the best treatment. Pharmacy staff specialize in preparing the appropriate medications needed for the treatment.
Following a stroke, the patient may need special therapy to regain use of their arms or legs, or speech, or to re-learn day-to-day activities. Therapists on the stroke team are specially trained to guide the patient through this recovery process.