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Published on April 19, 2017

David Aylsworth

Knowing the signs of stroke and quick action saves Wadena man

be FAST

Stroke strikes suddenly! Know the signs and BE FAST.

B = Sudden loss of coordination and Balance
E = Sudden loss of vision or double vision (Eyes)
F = Weakness on one side of the Face
A = Arm or leg weakness on one side
S = Difficulty speaking or understanding Speech
T = Time symptoms started

A sudden and severe headache can be another sign.

Call 911 immediately if you notice any of these signs!

David Aylsworth wasn't feeling well as he drove to the family farm.

"I had bent over to pick something up and couldn't straighten my back for a couple minutes," the Wadena, Iowa, resident says of the morning of April 15, 2016. "Once I straightened up, I felt better, so started driving to the farm. But then I had difficulty driving and nearly hit the neighbor's mailbox."

Dave decided it was best to head back home, but when he tried to get out of his truck, his legs wouldn't move. Dave's nephew and several men drove by and noticed something was wrong.

After Dave asked for help into his home, one of the men, a firefighter, evaluated Dave and recognized he was having a stroke. The men quickly drove Dave to Gundersen Palmer Lutheran Hospital and Clinics in West Union.

When Dave arrived at Gundersen Palmer, hospital staff was informed of Dave's condition, and a Stroke Alert was issued to notify hospital and nursing staff, Lab and Radiology, to prepare for a stroke patient.

"At Gundersen Palmer, we study and plan for situations like this so every department fully understands its role in a Stroke Alert," says Lana Schmitt, NP, Gundersen Palmer Emergency Services. "Time is of the essence. There are only a few hours from the time of the onset of symptoms that we are able to give medication to alleviate stroke symptoms and reduce complications."

When Dave arrived at Gundersen Palmer's Emergency Room, Lana noticed Dave was weak on one side of his body, had a facial droop and was slurring his speech.

"Dave was rushed for a CT scan to check for blood clots. Once I had the results, I called and consulted with Dr. Michael Leone, a Gundersen neurologist in La Crosse. We confirmed Dave was having a stroke and determined that I should immediately administer TPA (tissue plasminogen activator) to Dave to break up the blood clots that were causing his stroke," says Lana.

David Aylsworth

Thanks to the fast work by Gundersen Palmer staff and his friends, Dave is looking forward to hunting this year with his best bud, Rebel.

"A stroke cuts off blood flow and oxygen to brain cells, which can become damaged or die within minutes," explains Dr. Leone. "TPA allows the restoration of blood flow and oxygen to brain cells. Cells that are not irreversibly damaged can then begin to heal and avoid further damage. The sooner we can break the clot and reestablish that flow, the better for the brain."

Dave received TPA within 44 minutes and his condition began to improve immediately.

He was flown by Gundersen MedLink AIR to Gundersen's La Crosse Hospital for further testing and treatment. Thanks to the quick action taken by everyone involved, Dave was able to go home the next day and does not have any lingering effects from the stroke.

"A few factors were critical to the success of this incident," Lana says. "First, the men who found Dave were the crucial link to Dave's success story. They understood the signs of stroke and the importance that he be evaluated quickly.

The other critical link was our ability to consult with a specialist at Gundersen in La Crosse through our Medlink Consultation. This program gives us access to Gundersen specialists by phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

We are able to review the patient's case with them and they can give their expert opinion on how to care for the patient."

Dave and his wife, Becky, are very grateful for the outstanding care Dave received. In a thank you letter to Gundersen Palmer staff, Dave and Becky expressed their gratitude by saying, "The outcome of your fast work and that of everybody at Gundersen was nothing short of a miracle."

For more information on symptoms and ways to prevent strokes, talk with your primary care provider or contact the Gundersen clinic nearest you.