Neurology Speed Dating!

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The session involved groups of delegates spending a set amount of time with each of a selection of very learned experts in the fields of neurology, neurosurgery and oncology and being able to ask them anything we wanted!

I left clinical practice just over two years ago, but shortly before this I was involved in the relatively novel treatment of using thrombolysis, a ‘clot-busting’ drug to treat ischaemic strokes which account for around 80% of all strokes or cerebro-vascular accidents (CVAs) . An ischaemic stroke occurs when a blood clot lodges in a blood vessel within the brain and causes the area of the brain supplied by that vessel to become starved of oxygen. It is this lack of oxygen which results in the loss of function typically seen in a stroke; sudden onset of paralysis, loss of sensation, loss of vision, loss of speech and/or loss of balance. Thrombolysis, which is similar to that used for myocardial infarction, or heart attack, works by significantly thinning the blood in order to attempt to dissolve any clot which has formed within the blood vessels of the brain.

During the ‘speed dating’ session, I was able to ask Dr Wojtek Racowicz, consultant neruologist, about the current situation with regard to the provision of thrombolysis nationally and what patients can expect if they are unfortunate enough to suffer a stroke. I was encouraged to learn that patients can expect to be taken by paramedics to a hospital with an acute stroke unit where, should they meet strict criteria, they will be offered thrombolysis. Due to the nature of clot-busting drugs however, there is a significant risk of bleeding associated with its use and for this reason, detailed discussion regarding the risks and individual intended benefits of treatment should be discussed with patients prior to it's use as part of the informed consent procedure.

At the conference, we also discussed Transient Ischaemic Attacks (TIAs) or 'mini strokes'. This condition is characterised by symptoms of a stroke which completely resolve within 24 hours. Following a TIA there is a significantly increased risk of going on to suffer a full stroke, within the next 2 weeks. Following a TIA, it is important to seek prompt medical assistance from either your GP or local A&E department who should refer you to a TIA clinic in order to investigate your risk factors for stroke and commence effective treatment.

To top off a really informative day, on the way back to the train station we were star struck to see Kevin Whately and an entourage of film crew filming an episode of Lewis in the streets of Oxford!

Sam Ward
Nurse Adviser and Medical Researcher
Clinical Negligence and Personal Injury Team

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