It's estimated that about every 40 seconds, someone in America suffers a stroke. Rochester has some of the state's highest numbers. The hospitals that treat those patients are joining forces to share ideas about how to do things better.
When Christina Goodermote was only 37 years old, she suffered a stroke. She had another at 38 and then a third major stroke shortly after that. Her son heard her having a seizure.
"He woke up his father and said, 'Dad, Dad, Mom's choking. We need to help her," explained Goodermote. "At that point, I had stopped breathing and my husband began administering CPR."
It was only after that third stroke and several tests and MRIs later that doctors finally gave Goodermote a diagnosis.
"The two previous ones I realized they had been episodes when I had gone blind in both eyes. I lost my vision. At the time, I had gone to the doctor and followed up with all the proper care that you're supposed to, but it wasn't diagnosed as a stroke."
Goodermote shared her story with dozens of other stroke survivors and their caregivers at the second annual conference of the Stroke Treatment Alliance of Rochester on Thursday. STAR is a collaborative effort by Rochester's four major hospitals to improve stroke care for patients. Doctors, nurses, caregivers and patients come from around the state to share their information and learn from each other.
"It is a tremendous opportunity for us to put together our own practices that work and share them with our colleagues at the other institutions," said neurologist Dr. Curtis Benesch. "We're collecting data on all patients who come in with strokes to the different institutions and trying to develop best practices that can improve their outcomes and improve their chance of avoiding another stroke."
Right after the stroke, Goodermote couldn't speak and had paralysis and weakness in her right side. Today, she's almost fully recovered. She is on medication, follows a strict diet and exercises.
In these eight years since that last stroke, she's learned to surf, took up karate, bought herself an orange Camaro, and is now getting her MBA at the University of Rochester Simon School of Business.
Goodermote wants to not only remind those in the medical field that strokes can happen to the young, but also tell those with share similar stories that life does go on.
"It's debilitating and it can be depressing at times," she said. "But I don't want them to give up on themselves."
Experts say you can remember the signs of stoke using the acronym FAST:
- Face- Does the person's face droop when he or she smiles.
- Arm- Does an arm drift downward after they put their arms up?
- Speech- Is it slurred or strange?
- Time- call 911 right away if you notice any of those symptoms.