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Stroke Center

Stroke is a sudden loss of brain function due to a disturbance in the brain's blood circulation. This can cause permanent disability or even death. Know the signs and symptoms of stroke, and call 911 right away if you think someone might be having a stroke. Getting fast treatment is important to preventing death and disability from stroke.

Minutes Matter

Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds; getting help and getting it fast is essential to survival and recovery. For this reason, the state of Missouri created the Time Critical Diagnosis system to help first responders quickly identify those hospitals best equipped to treat stroke patients.

Lake Regional Health System is designated as a Level II Stroke Center by the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services. This certification means the state has verified that Lake Regional is able to provide a high level of expert care to patients who have experienced stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA).

Nationally Recognized Stroke Care

Lake Regional Hospital is a recipient of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines®–Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award with Target: Stroke Honor RollSM Elite Plus. The award recognizes the hospital's commitment and success in ensuring that stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

Treatment Options

There are two types of stroke: ischemic stroke (insufficient blood flow) and hemorrhagic stroke (a ruptured blood vessel). Treatment depends on the type of stroke. The only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic stroke is tPA (tissue plasminogen activator). According to the American Stroke Association, patients can benefit from the clot-busting drug tPA up to 4.5 hours after stroke symptoms begin. The guidelines apply to most patients with ischemic stroke, accounting for 80 percent of strokes each year.

Recovery and Rehabilitation

Stroke is one of the leading causes of long-term disability, affecting nearly 800,000 Americans each year. Recovery time after a stroke varies; it can take weeks, months or even years. If you have had a stroke, rehabilitation therapy may help.

Rehabilitation begins in the hospital as soon as possible following a stroke and should continue as necessary after your release. Your recovery and rehabilitation program may include the following.

Act FAST!

Because anyone at any age can have a stroke, it's important to know the signs to prevent disability or death. FAST is an easy way to remember the signs of stroke.

Face: Ask the person to smile. Is there a droop on one side or an uneven smile?
Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms with their eyes closed. Does one arm drift down because of weakness? Is there arm numbness?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he or she repeat it? Is speech slurred or difficult to understand?
Time: Call 911 and get to a stroke center immediately. The faster treatment is administered, the better the outcome.

Stroke symptoms also may include:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • A severe headache without a known cause

Patient Stories

Wake-Up Call: Stroke Survivor Paul Wilke

A near miss changed Paul Wilke's life - for the better. 

Paul Wilke woke up at 4 a.m. Friday, May 27, 2016, unable to move his right arm and leg.

“I couldn’t get rolled over,” he says. “I thought my leg and arm were asleep.”

It lasted a couple of minutes. Then Paul got up, walked a bit and sat back on the bed. As he sat there, the numbness and weakness returned. His wife, Jill, woke up and asked if he was OK.

Paul knew he was not.

“I told her I thought I was having a stroke,” he says.

Alarm Bells

Paul knew what was happening because he had seen it hundreds of times. He is a retired paramedic, with 25 years of medical experience. And, Jill is a registered nurse.

They moved to the lake in 2014 from Wisconsin. Jill’s grandparents founded Wonderland Camp, and once Paul and Jill’s kids were grown, they decided to move back to her family’s land on the lake.

“He fishes all the time, and we like going out on the boat — just living that lake life,” says Jill, who serves as Lake Regional’s director of Palliative Care, Home Health and Hospice.

As soon as Jill heard Paul speak that morning, she knew his life was in danger. Not only was he having numbness and weakness on his right side, but he also was slurring his words. Jill tried to call 911, but the call dropped. Less than five minutes after the second attack began, it ended, and Paul could move and talk again.

Acting Fast

Wasting no time, Jill drove Paul to Lake Regional Emergency Department. There, staff initiated Code Stroke, alerting all providers and departments involved in stroke care. Lake Regional Neurologist Philip Kurle, M.D., diagnosed Paul with crescendo transient ischemic attacks, or TIAs. Sometimes called ministrokes, transient ischemic attacks have similar symptoms as stroke but are brief, without lasting effects. The “crescendo” indicates Paul’s attacks were coming at a fast rate.

“If not treated, there’s a very high risk of these attacks progressing to a full stroke,” Dr. Kurle says.

Dr. Kurle’s treatment for Paul focused on improving blood flow through restricted arteries in Paul’s brain.  Specifically, Paul received antiplatelet drugs, which prevent the formation of blood clots; aspirin; blood thinner; and fluids.

Next, Dr. Kurle ordered testing, including an MRI and cerebral angiogram. The results showed Paul had escaped a full-blown stroke. Dr. Kurle kept him in the hospital a little more than 24 hours for observation, and Paul had no more attacks.

“Having worked at a much bigger health facility in Wisconsin, we both were very impressed with the care Paul received here,” Jill says. “Dr. Kurle and the stroke team did everything right and saved him from progressing to a full stroke.”

Turning Things Around

Leaving the hospital, Paul had mixed emotions. Although thankful to be walking out with no disabilities, he knew he was at increased risk for a future stroke. He also had been diagnosed with diabetes during his stay, and he was angry at himself for years of poor health choices. He wasted no time making changes.

“I quit smoking May 27,” he says, “and I started watching my diet, exercising and found a primary care doctor, Dr. Barnum, who I see regularly.”

Even with these changes, Paul struggled to manage his blood sugar levels, especially in the mornings. So, he enlisted the help of a Lake Regional dietitian and diabetes educator, Wendy Castle, MPH, R.D., L.D., CDE. She explained how Paul should mix his proteins and carbs, even when snacking. Paul followed her advice and saw his levels improve.

For exercise, Paul started walking and after a couple of months, began running.

“I don’t particularly like running, but it’s the best way for me to lose weight and stay active,” Paul says.

Because of his commitment to healthier living, Paul has lost 60 pounds and achieved a healthy blood pressure.

“He’s probably in the best shape of his life,” Jill says, adding he’s shown amazing willpower. Paul says he hears that often.

“A lot of people have asked, ‘How can you switch overnight?’” he says. “The answer is I thought I was going to die or be severely disabled. That gave me a different perspective. I realized that if I want to see my grandkids grow up, I had to change things. And I’m sticking to that.”

Stroke Center

As a state-designated Level II Stroke Center, Lake Regional Health System offers comprehensive stroke care and recovery, including treatment from a board-certified neurologist, specially trained Emergency Department physicians and staff, around-the-clock emergency imaging services, a skilled nursing facility located in the hospital, rehabilitation services and home health services.

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"Don't Ever Give Up": Stroke Survivor Lois Shipp

Lois Shipp and Ann Perry

Lois Shipp lifted her left foot, set it on a low wooden box and grinned.

“There!” she said to Lake Regional Physical Therapist Assistant Ann Perry. “It came straight down, didn’t swing to the side at all. Did you see that?”

Perry grinned back at her. “I did,” she said. “Good job.”   

Shipp, 83, has good reason to feel proud. She has come a long way since a stroke on Feb. 13, 2017, left her left side paralyzed. May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and Shipp shares her story to encourage others facing a stroke diagnosis.

“Don’t ever give up,” she said. “You can have a life after a stroke.”

From Depressed to Determined

Shipp wasn’t always so positive about recovery. After her stroke, she spent six days in Lake Regional’s Intensive Care Unit and then a day and a half on Lake Regional’s Medical/Surgical Unit. From there, she went to Lake Regional Skilled Nursing Facility for intense therapy. She couldn’t walk more than five feet with a walker, and even that required assistance from a therapist.

“She thought she was always going to be that way,” said her husband, Don Shipp, who is also a stroke survivor.

“I was depressed, and I didn’t want to get out of bed,” Lois Shipp said, adding she refused to do therapy the first two days. Then Jeanne Marie Loggins, an occupational therapist assistant, explained her options.

“That changed my life,” Lois said. “Jeanne Marie came into my room and said: ‘Lois, do you know that if you do not try to get some therapy, you will have to leave here in a couple of days and go live in a nursing home? If that’s what you want, that’s fine, but you know, we can help you.’ And there was something in her voice that sounded like she really cared. So I said, ‘Then let’s get at it.’”

And “get at it” Shipp did, impressing all of her caregivers.

“I worked hard and within two weeks, I could raise my arm above my head and was walking some with a walker,” Shipp said.

And within a month, she could walk 350 feet with a walker and go up and down stairs.

“She worked very hard,” Loggins said. “She wanted to be able to go home, and after 32 days in our Skilled Nursing Facility, she walked out of here with a walker.”

Lois Shipp and Ann PerryGrateful and Strong

In the weeks since, Shipp has continued her occupational and physical therapy on an outpatient basis, coming to Lake Regional Hospital three times a week. She has all of her movement back in her left arm and enough control in her left hand to lift a glass and take a drink without any spilling. Her left foot has been the slowest to regain movement and control, and she wears a special brace to help her not drag her toes. At home, she continues to use a walker to be safe, but with her therapists’ supervision, she walks with just a cane.

She continues to get stronger and is thankful for the therapists and other caregivers who have helped her recover.

“I could not have had a better team,” Shipp said. “They have been so good to me and have become like family to me.

“I hope if you ever have a stroke, you will think positive and work hard to get your life back,” she added. “You can do it, and it is worth all the hard work getting there. I worked as hard as I could, and by the grace of God, I’m where I am today.”

Stroke Care at Lake Regional

As a state-designated Level II Stroke Center, Lake Regional Health System offers comprehensive stroke care and recovery, including treatment from a board-certified neurologist, specially trained Emergency Department physicians and staff, around-the-clock emergency imaging services, a skilled nursing facility located in the hospital, rehabilitation services and home health services.

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Suspect a Stroke? Act FAST

If you suspect a stroke, remember the word FAST.

F is for face — is it drooping?

A is for arms — can you lift them?

S is for speech — are you slurring your words?

T is for time — call 911 immediately because with stroke, time is brain.