Mobile stroke unit 'proves a success'

Mobile stroke unit 'proves a success'

Stroke victims who receive emergency treatment from the Siriraj Mobile Stroke Unit -- the country's first mobile telemedicine unit -- face a lower risk of paralysis or death, according to the director of Siriraj Stroke Centre.

Dr Yongchai Nilanont said on Tuesday that patients treated in the mobile unit have a 60% chance of recovering, while those who received initial treatment in hospital have a 40% chance of recovering.

In service since 2018, the Siriraj Mobile Stroke Unit is a converted bus equipped with medical equipment for treating stroke patients. The unit is equipped with a telemedicine facility, which enables responders to consult with doctors at the hospital and provide treatment on site -- thus saving precious time.

The mobile unit also has a special CT scanner equipped with WiFi and 5G technology, which allows it to transmit scans of a patient's brain to any medical specialist.

"Some urgent treatment can be provided in the bus. Patients can be given medicine in this bus, for instance, before they are moved to a hospital for more complex treatment," he said.

"Meanwhile, the hospital will clear a room while the patient is en route, so they don't have to wait on arrival," he said. The bus has been dispatched to 287 patients -- and most of them have made a better recovery, said Dr Yongchai.

In order to be picked up by the mobile stroke unit, patients will still need to contact Siriraj Hospital directly. The hospital team will first verify the patient's condition and, if it is indeed serious, the hospital will dispatch the unit -- either to treat the patient on-site, or to provide preliminary treatment in the bus before continuing on to the hospital.

Siriraj Mobile Stroke Unit was jointly developed by Mahidol University's Faculty of Engineering, Siriraj Hospital's Faculty of Medicine, along with private telecom firms including TOT, AIS and True, which helped with the 5G technology and infrastructure.

As of now, there is only one mobile stroke unit, but three similar buses have been developed by Mahidol University to be sent to the East and deep South by the end of this year.

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