An initiative between the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine and the Calgary Health Region has created a new stroke assessment program which determines the best recovery program for a stroke victim.

Alberta Stroke Program, led by Dr. Michael Hill, created the Alberta Stroke Program Early Computed Topography after years of clinical experience and study. Their work appeared in the August issue of the medical journal Stroke.

The program utilizes computed topographic scans which shows the presence or absence of blood flow in the brain. For each of the 10 topographical regions of the brain, ASPECT will give a score of 10 for normal and zero for abnormal. Depending on the score, the best possible road to recovery will be chosen for the patients. The system relies on visual inspection of the scans and is easily learned.

"Good clinical care is highly dependent upon good clinical research," said Dr. Hill. "The two go hand in hand. The best clinical care in the world occurs in places where good clinical research is happening."

One important and useful drug for stroke patients is Tissue Plasminogen Activator. ASPECT can determine which patients will benefit best from TPA without suffering from side effects, such as hemorrhaging in the stroke-affected brain region.

As well, ASPECT can quickly and accurately determine which patients have the greatest chance of fully recovering from brain damage if the correct treatment and procedures are implemented.

"Consequently, early detection and intervention in stroke is critical to achieve a positive outcome for the patient," said Director of Calgary Stoke Program and U of C clinical neurosciences professor Dr. Alastair Buchan.

Heart disease and strokes are among the leading causes of death in Canada.

Started in 1996, the Stroke Unit is a joint initiative between the U of C Faculty of Medicine and the CHR. The goal of this program was to provide the best care for stroke patients and lead to recovery.

The Stroke Unit consists of researchers, specialists, physicians, nurses, a physiotherapist, an occupational therapist, a social worker, a speech therapist and a home care coordinator.

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