Stroke care in West Palm Beach, Florida

When you or a loved one come to JFK Medical Center for stroke care, you are in trusted, experienced hands. Our emergency care physicians are ready 24/7 to respond and treat incoming stroke patients. Because stroke recovery can extend beyond treatment in the emergency room, our specialized stroke care continues through our Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit and comprehensive stroke rehabilitation.

If you believe you or someone you know is experiencing a stroke, call 911 immediately. For more information about our advanced stroke care, call our Consult-A-Nurse® team at (561) 548-4535.

JFK Medical Center is nationally recognized for our advanced stroke services. We have been recognized by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center and by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association with the Get With The Guidelines® Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. In Palm Beach County, the most advanced interventions are available at JFK Medical Center, the first Comprehensive Stroke Center recognized by the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) in the county.

Stroke treatment is a large part of neurological care at JFK Medical Center. We house a 36-bed nursing neuroscience unit and a specialized, 18-bed Neuroscience Intensive Care unit (Neuro-ICU), both of which allow us to provide advanced care for our stroke patients. We also offer minimally invasive treatment options for stroke patients, including coil and stent placements.

Multidisciplinary stroke treatment team

When you choose JFK Medical Center for your emergency and continued stroke care, you gain access to a multidisciplinary team of professionals who are dedicated to you, from treatment in our ER throughout your rehabilitation process. Our team includes:

  • Emergency medical services (EMS) providers
  • Emergency physicians
  • Neurologists
  • Neurosurgeons
  • Neurointerventionalists
  • Neuroradiologists
  • Diagnostic and interventional radiologists
  • Intensivists and hospitalists

What is a stroke?

Stroke, whether ischemic or hemorrhagic, is caused by an irregularity in blood flow. In an ischemic stroke, a blockage in an artery reduces blood flow to the brain and causes a stroke. In a hemorrhagic stroke, bleeding inside the brain is caused by a burst blood vessel, which causes pressure and a loss of function in certain parts of the brain.

Know the signs of stroke

When stroke symptoms occur, time is of the essence. It is vital to seek emergency care immediately, as medical intervention is the best way to reduce a patient's chances of long-term disability from stroke.

Remember the acronym F.A.S.T. to quickly identify stroke symptoms:

  • F(ace)—Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • A(rms)—Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S(peech)—Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • T(ime)—If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

If you can, take note of what time symptoms appeared and how long they lasted.

Other signs of stroke may include:

  • Numbness or weakness in the arms, legs or face, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Vision problems (trouble seeing in one or both eyes)
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty walking and/or loss of coordination or balance
  • Severe headache with no known cause

Fast, effective care for stroke

Since time is of the essence, recognizing stroke symptoms early on is critical. JFK Medical Center's staff is skilled at immediately determining the best treatment plan through rapid diagnosis and treatment. Our emergency room (ER) is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so we are always prepared to provide top-level care for incoming stroke patients.

Expedited computed tomography (CT) scans and/or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), combined with a neurological consultation, are used to make an accurate diagnosis and help determine the best course of treatment.

Stroke treatment

Our specialists are experienced in several methods to treat stroke, including:

  • Ischemic stroke patients
    • IV tPA—Intravenous administration of tPA, a blood-thinning, clot-busting drug that restores blood flow to the brain
    • Intra-arterial tPA—An endovascular catheterization procedure to disperse a blood clot using locally injected tPA
    • Mechanical thrombectomy—A treatment method for removing large blood clots through the use of catheterization and stent placement to restore blood flow
    • Cerebral stenting—The placement of stents in the arteries of the brain to maintain proper blood flow
  • Hemorrhagic stroke patients
    • Coiling and clipping of aneurysms—Both are suitable aneurysm treatments, coiling is a way of cutting off blood flow to an aneurysm and clipping involves placing a tiny clip across the aneurysm to prevent bleeding
    • Ventricular drainage—A procedure that relieves pressure caused by fluids in the brain

TPA within 45 minutes

Quicker TPA administration has been found to improve patient outcomes (Alteplase - a drug to reduce blockage within a blood vessel in the brain). Therefore there is a goal of receiving the medication within 45minutes of arrival at the emergency department.

  • Fastest door to treatment time with IV Alteplase in 2020 – 8 minutes
  • Median door to treatment with IV Alteplase (Tpa) for stroke or suspected stroke patients – 33 minutes (77% of the cases in 2020 were < 45 minutes; 88.3% were <60 minutes)

TICI response scale

Thrombolysis in Cerebral Infarction (TICI – scale 0 - 3) is a graded response scale to determine the level of stroke treatment a patient had received and the intracranial blood flow after the surgery.

The Neurological Care Team at JFK Medical Center is committed to keeping our scores high, to ensure patients receive the best possible care.

Based on information from 2020, the percentage of reperfusion scores of TICI 2b or greater for JFK Medical Center patients was 85%.

Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit

After initial treatment, patients continue receiving specialized stroke care in our Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit (Neuro-ICU). Nurses in this unit have expertise in neurological assessments and provide comprehensive care and education to stroke patients and their families.

Stroke recovery

Stroke is the number one cause of serious adult disability in the U.S. Stroke disability is poses a large challenge to both the stroke patient and their family, but therapies are available to help rehabilitate post-stroke patients.

At JFK Medical Center, we offer a specialized stroke rehabilitation program as part of our physical therapy and rehab services so patients can receive professional, high-quality help to regain their independence and quality of life. Our program incorporates aspects of physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy and psychological assessment.

Physical therapy (PT)

For most stroke patients, physical therapy (PT) is the cornerstone of the rehabilitation process. A physical therapist uses exercises and physical manipulation of the stroke patient's body with the intent of restoring movement, balance and coordination. The aim of PT is to have the stroke patient relearn simple motor activities such as walking, sitting, standing, lying down and the process of switching from one type of movement to another.

Occupational therapy (OT)

Another type of therapy involving relearning daily activities is occupational therapy (OT). OT also involves exercise and training to help the stroke patient relearn everyday activities such as eating, drinking and swallowing, dressing, bathing, cooking, reading, writing and toileting. The goal of OT is to help the patient become independent or semi-independent.

Speech therapy

Speech and language problems arise when brain damage occurs in the language centers of the brain. Due to the brain’s great ability to learn and change (called brain plasticity), other areas can adapt to take over some of the lost functions. Speech therapy helps stroke patients relearn language and speaking skills, or learn other forms of communication.

Speech therapy is appropriate for patients who have no deficits in cognition or thinking, but have problems understanding speech or written words, or problems forming speech. A speech therapist helps stroke patients help themselves by working to improve language skills, develop alternative ways of communicating and develop coping skills to deal with the frustration of not being able to communicate fully. With time and patience, a stroke survivor should be able to regain some, and sometimes all, language and speaking abilities.

Psychological support

Many stroke patients require psychological or psychiatric help after a stroke. Psychological problems, such as depression, anxiety, frustration and anger, are common post-stroke symptoms. Talk therapy, along with appropriate medication, can help alleviate some of the mental and emotional problems that result from stroke. Sometimes it is also beneficial for family members of the stroke patient to seek psychological help as well.