Martha Jefferson Healthwise: Stroke Awareness Month

May 14, 2014

May is Stroke Awareness Month and one area woman is sharing her story with the hopes that it will help someone else get the care they need quickly and possibly save a life.

Leah Leffler is back at Martha Jefferson Hospital. This time she's not checking on a loved one but she's spreading awareness about strokes.

Earlier this year, she was in this emergency department with her dad.

"He just all of a sudden couldn't really walk. I was holding on to him and I was trying to ask him what was wrong and he couldn't speak and then when he did speak it was all garbled and you couldn't understand what he was saying," said Leah Leffler, Raising Stroke Awareness.

Her dad was having a stroke but she quickly got him medical attention.

"It was just seeing my dad like that. I had never seen him like that before and I knew something was wrong. I knew it needed immediate attention," said Leffler.

Dr. Alexander Grunsfeld is a neurologist at the hospital and knows just how much every second counts when caring for a stroke victim.

"When you're having a stroke what's happening is the brain cells are slowly dying. That's because a blood vessel has been blocked that brings blood to the brain cells. The sooner you can unblock that blockage the better the likelihood that you'll recover from a stroke," said Dr. Grunsfeld.

Dr. Grunsfeld says Leffler's father was very lucky. He got to the hospital in minutes and got a stroke reversing medicine called T.P.A. It stands for Tissue Plasminogen Activator.

"The TPA breaks up the blood clot which allows blood flow to resume and hopefully the brain cells will recover," said Dr. Grunsfeld.

Although, this drug may not be able to help every patient that's having a stroke, it did wonders for Leffler's father.

"Within 20 minutes after administering it, he was getting his speech back. He was starting to follow commands. I've never seen such a significant difference," said Leffler.

Doctors say this difference is usually only possible when stroke patients get to the hospital in time.

Fortunately for Leffler, her dad got the care he needed and the medicine that helped to save his life.

Dr. Grunsfelds says there are many different signs of stroke. Someone usually experiences paralysis on one side of the body. They may have problems speaking and understanding.

A stroke victim could also be confused or experience changes with their vision. They may also have difficulties walking.

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