Professor Stephen Davis
22 December 2016
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Australia’s first ever dedicated stroke ambulance will hit the road in Melbourne next year to provide the quickest possible diagnosis and treatment for patients suffering a life threatening stroke.

Victoria's Health and Ambulance Services Minister, Jill Hennessy announced today an investment of $7.5 million over four years towards the trial of the mobile stroke unit which has been tested in Germany and America.

The Royal Melbourne Hospital's Director Neurology and the Melbourne Brain Centre, Professor Stephen Davis, said Australia's first mobile stroke unit (MSU) was all about bringing the stroke unit to the patient.

"Incorporating a CT brain scanner in the ambulance allows brain imaging and diagnosis at the patient’s home, and facilitates the potential use of urgent therapies, such as clot-dissolving treatment of stroke. This will allow many more patients to be treated in the golden hour after stroke onset, giving our patients the best chance of a good recovery," Professor Davis said.

"When time is brain, every single second counts. The Melbourne MSU will have an integrated CT brain scanner, the latest medical equipment and qualified medical staff to treat stroke patients before hospital arrival."

The MSU will provide efficient and effective road transfer to the Royal Melbourne Hospital for ongoing treatment, where patients will benefit from a seamless transition and connected care. CT scanner results from the ambulance will be instantly sent to hospital thanks to the latest telehealth technology.

The trial is part of research between The Royal Melbourne Hospital, the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health and Ambulance Victoria.

Professor Davis added that the trial will commence in mid-2017 in Melbourne’s north and western suburbs.

"Thanks to leading Melbourne business donors, the Victorian Government, the Stroke Foundation, Ambulance Victoria, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and The Florey Institute, the vision of having a mobile stroke unit will soon be a reality," Professor Davis said.

About one in six people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. In 2014, 2,954 Victorians died from the disease. It is the leading cause of disability in Australia, and causes more deaths than breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in men.

Victorian hospitals treat more than 14,000 people for stroke and related conditions every year.

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