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Every Second Counts

Published in the Spring 2013 Issue of Join Us Magazine.

Peggy and Rita
Quick action by Rita Ratliff, right, resulted in better recovery for her mother, Peggy Bowman, after experiencing a stroke.
"Time is brain” is the motto that encourages people to act quickly when a stroke is suspected.

Fast action by Middletown resident Rita Ratliff when she feared her mother, Eureka “Peggy” Bowman, was having a stroke resulted in a much better recovery for Peggy.

On the morning of December 28, Peggy, who lives with Rita and another of her daughters, suddenly stopped brushing her hair and slumped in her chair. “The left side of Mom’s face was droopy and the minute I saw that, I knew it was a stroke,” Rita recalls.

Fast action, better recovery

Rita immediately called 911 and her mother was taken to the Emergency Trauma Center at Atrium Medical Center. Atrium is a Certified Primary Stroke Center with a well-coordinated program specifically designed to treat strokes swiftly and effectively.

“I followed the ambulance in my car and when I arrived at Atrium, Mom was already being taken care of by a team of people ready for her arrival,” says Rita. “In fact, they had already done
a CAT scan.”

Neurologist Subodh Wadhwa, MD, director of the Stroke Program at Atrium, told Peggy’s family that she had suffered a major stroke. He also told them some potentially good news: she was a candidate for a medication known as tPA (tissue plasminogen activator).

“If the stroke is caused by a blocked artery or blood clot, tPA can be administered,” says Dr. Wadhwa. “This drug, also known as the clot buster, opens up the artery and increases blood flow. That means a faster, better recovery and less brain damage for patients like Peggy.”

Dr. Wadhwa quickly adds that tPA must be given within four-and-a-half hours of stroke onset. “It’s true that time is brain,” he says.

“Thanks to Peggy’s family, she was at Atrium in time.”

Peggy was taken to the Intensive Care Unit where she spent five days, and then to a regular room. Every step along the way, Peggy had physical therapy, speech therapy and occupational therapy to help her regain losses in function and mobility.  

“Every day we saw progress and soon she was ready for rehabilitation,” Rita says. Peggy spent three weeks making even more progress at Atrium’s Rehabilitation Center, and was then ready to go home. Today, she is still receiving therapy but she and the family are pleased with her great recovery.

The importance of family

Dr. Wadhwa
Subodh Wadhwa, MD, Neurologist

Peggy and her family are also pleased with Atrium Medical Center. Rita recalls that when more than 30 relatives arrived at the Emergency Trauma Center the day her Mom was there, all were able to spend time with Peggy. A family member also stayed every night with Peggy in her room. Rita reports that Atrium team members were happy to provide pillows, blankets – and understanding.

“It certainly was wonderful to have my family with me,” Peggy says.

But long before the hospital stay, before the rehab, Peggy’s good recovery started with fast action by Rita. “I knew it was a stroke and I wanted to help,” Rita says. “But I didn’t know there was a medication to help the patient. We are very grateful that Mom had tPA. Very grateful.”

Stroke symptoms

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing with one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, or difficulty walking
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
  • If any of these signs or symptoms are experienced, call 911 immediately

Find out more about Atrium’s certified stroke program at www.AtriumMedCenter.org/stroke.

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