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News Quick Action Stops Stroke in Its Tracks

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When Paula Horner, of Corvallis, suffered a stroke in February 2017, she was fortunate to have award-winning stroke care close by. Horner was rushed to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis, where a team of specialists from Samaritan Stroke Services stood ready to work together to stop and reserve the damaging effects of a stroke.

The Emergency Department doctor quickly confirmed that Horner was having a stroke and prescribed the clot-busting tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, the only drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat ischemic stroke.

When given in the first three hours after the start of stroke symptoms, tPA has been shown to significantly reduce the effects of stroke and lessen the chance of permanent disability.

Horner first noticed her symptoms around 5:30 in the evening.

“I was writing notes and I had dropped my keys on the floor,” Horner recalled. “When I reached down to pick them up, I could move my arm, but not my hand.”

Horner used her left hand to pick up her keys, but she could no longer write. Her speech had also become unclear.

“I knew I was having stroke,” she said.

Rapid response

A stroke patient loses 1.9 million neurons each minute stroke treatment is delayed. In Horner’s case, a code stroke was initiated within five minutes of her arrival at the hospital, and tPA was provided at :48 p.m., a little over an hour after her symptoms began. Paula started to feel better right away.

“I could feel my face go back to normal, and I could move all my fingers,” she said.

It reassured Horner to have the stroke team present, including Emergency Department doctors, neurologists, nurses, speech language specialists and many others.

“There must have been a dozen people there,” she said. “I knew I was receiving the treatment I needed.”

Ongoing recovery

Since her stroke, Horner’s found a new community in Samaritan’s Stroke and Brain Injury Support Group. She’s regained some of the abilities she initially lost with the help of Samaritan Physical Rehabilitation Specialists – Corvallis and her Occupational Therapist Jeanette Posler. Last April, she was able to respond quickly when her husband, Rick, suffered a stroke.

They now attend the stroke support group together. To reduce the risk of another stroke, they’ve made lifestyle changes. They’re eating better, and Horner quit smoking.

She’s working hard to regain full use in her right arm and hand so she can get back to gardening, writing and making jewelry.

She tries to stay positive.

“It’s amazing what you can do when you put your mind to it,” she said.

For more information about Samaritan Stroke Services, call 541-768-6737, or visit samhealth.org/Stroke.