Each year, medical staff diagnose approximately 4,500 Veterans with an acute ischemic stroke (AIS). Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability.

The VA National Telestroke Program (NTSP) serves Veterans with acute stroke symptoms at VA emergency departments, urgent care centers and hospitals.

In the photo above, a Birmingham VA nurse uses mobile technology to consult with an NTSP neurologist.

Telestroke simulation January 29 in the Nashville VA Emergency Department

A growing technology

Dr. Glenn Graham said the program has grown in providing acute stroke expertise to VA facilities that lack around-the-clock acute stroke coverage. Graham is the program’s executive champion and founded the program in 2017.

The NTSP is comprised of a virtual “hub” of VA stroke neurologists located around the country. They participate in a 24/7/365 call schedule to provide coverage to participating facilities. Dr. Sharyl Martini, NTSP medical director, said the program has 22 neurologists covering Telestroke services for 40 VA facilities, with 20 additional facilities forecast to be added annually from fiscal year 2021 through 2023.

When a Veteran with acute stroke symptoms presents at a participating VA facility, front-line staff use a mobile device to videoconference with the Telestroke neurologist. The neurologist examines the patient and reviews the medical record and CT images. They then advise the local treating physician of the diagnosis and recommend treatment. The staff enters the recommendation in the patient’s record. The local treating provider executes the recommendations.

“Before a VA Telestroke facility activates Telestroke services, the NTSP team conducts a 2 ½ day go-live course onsite, including 3 to 4 Telestroke simulations,” said Dr. Jane Anderson, the NTSP director of education.

Simulation scenarios

The team uses standardized patients in simulation scenarios involving a patient presenting with stroke symptoms. SimLEARN RN Faculty supports the program. Each simulation involves mobile technology and simulated waveforms on actual patient monitors to increase simulation fidelity. Staff follow the patient through initial diagnosis, communications with the Telestroke neurologist, CT scan and medication administration.

According to Bill Cerniuk, NTSP chief technology officer, the field of VA Telemedicine continues to expand and is positively impacting care for our Veterans.

VA Mobile Technology and Simulation supporting the Telestroke Program are helping reinforce provider learning and improve patient care. The technology is provided via Virtual Reality, Serious Gaming, Artificial Intelligence and Standardized Patients.

May is Stroke Month. The theme is “I will not have another stroke.”

Get the facts about strokes from VA’s My HealtheVet.

(All photos taken before COVID-19 in 2019/2020)

By David J. Adriansen, Director of Simulation, VA National Telestroke Program

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Published on May. 12, 2020

Estimated reading time is 2.2 min.

Views to date: 510


  1. William Spence May 12, 2020 at 10:52 pm

    I need help, with Aid and attanded, my daughter quite two jobs to take care me. We need the income she wants to leave me and start working again. As a CNA then I have to try and fine someone to help me.help with cooking, dressing,med. Management, washing, I’m a fall person.who can help.

    • Patricia JANE Babcock May 15, 2020 at 12:24 pm

      Start first with an accredited VSO Rep who knows the regulations, forms, and how to request claims expedites due to severe health or financial conditions, set by the VA. https://www.va.gov/ogc/apps/accreditation/index.asp

      Then the questions is the need for A&A due to VA rated compensation conditions or are you referring to the Wartime Veteran/Surviving Spouses Pension, income minus medical expenses, benefits? Either way your accredited VSO Rep is a veteran, paid by local government or the organization they represent, trained to help you file.

  2. Sharon Ann Meeler May 12, 2020 at 8:00 pm

    Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy is the proven immediate and most effective medical treatment that is needed with Stroke. WHY IS THIS LIFE-SAVING DEVICE NOT BEING USED BY THE VA?? Our local, Long Beach, California, VA, CLOSED THEIR HBOT CLINIC YEARS AGO!!!

    About 12 States have approved HBOT for Stroke, PTSD, TBI’s as well as used for saving limbs, rather than surgically removing.

    Travis Air Force, in Tracy, CA, has had phenomenal success in treating Stroke patients at their HBOT Clinic!

    Please; someone, read this and make changes that really count! Our Vets and our Military deserve this!

    Sharon Meeler

  3. Wetonah Ruth May 12, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    Sound Time Consuming to me! What will Happen if the Connection is Lost?

Comments are closed.

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