Saturday, May 23, 2020

By Catherine Shanahan

Stroke patient Roger Timon with his mother Derbhile. Picture: Eddie O’Hare

Drop-off in suspected stroke patients “bizarre.”

A doctor with the expertise to save stroke patients from a life of disability has described as “bizarre” the drop-off in patients attending Cork University Hospital (CUH) with stroke symptoms during February and March.

Consultant interventional neuroradiologist Gerry Wyse said: “We’ve had a very bizarre period from a stroke point of view, in that it went incredibly quiet in February and March and then we were exceptionally busy in April.

“With a large vessel occlusion [blockage of one of major arteries of the brain] it is not like you are going to stay at home.

“If you can’t speak and one side of your body’s not working, you are going to present [to hospital]. So it’s been kind of strange from that point of view. It obviously brings up all kinds of questions such as what is it that causes stroke.”

Dr Wyse, whose timely intervention last month helped return 17-year-old stroke victim Roger Timon, from Rochestown, Cork, to full health, said that they are “seeing a few little unusual things since Covid-19 arrived”.

“Only the other day, I was on a conference call with a group in Toronto and their experience is that they are also seeing some unusual stuff,” Dr Wyse said. “So even though a lot Covid tests [for stroke patients] have come back negative, we are not sure we believe them.”

There is a suspicion, he said, that Covid-19 may be causing “endothelial dysfunction”, a condition in which the inner lining of the small arteries fails to perform normally.

Derbhile Timon, Roger’s mother, said her son, who underwent a thrombectomy — mechanical removal of a clot — does not require physiotherapy, occupational therapy or speech and language therapy. He will be on blood thinners long term, but not a lot else.

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