Guidelines to help child stroke patients

Australian clinical guidelines have been developed to help reduce the time it takes emergency staff diagnose stroke in children.

The first clinical guidelines for children with stroke have been developed to improve outcomes for the 200 to 300 young Australians who suffer the life-threatening event every year.

While no longer a death sentence for many, more than half of the affected children will suffer long term physical and/or mental disabilities as result of stroke.

"For a childhood stroke survivor and their families, the impact of stroke can literally last a lifetime,'' said Stroke Foundation CEO Sharon McGowan.

"It happens in an instant, changing the lives of the survivor and their loved ones forever. There is no time to prepare for the journey ahead."

The guidelines, developed by doctors from the Royal Children's Hospital and the Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI), include more than 60 recommendations to assist emergency staff and paediatricians in diagnosing and managing children with stroke upon arrival to hospital.

One of the main aims of the guidelines is reduce the time taken to diagnose stroke to lessen the impact on the brain.

"The guidelines aim to facilitate better standards of care across Australian paediatric hospitals for childhood stroke, reduce the time to diagnose stroke and ensure all children are provided with the same high-quality evidence-based care" says Associate Professor Mark Mackay, Paediatric Neurologist, Director of the Royal Children's Stroke Program and researcher with MCRI.

The Stroke Foundation says the guidelines represent a vital step forward in recognising and treating some of the disease's youngest sufferers.

Ms McGowan says stroke is a medical emergency and has urged Australians to learn the F.A.S.T tool to help them recognise the signs and symptoms.

F.A.S.T stands for:

* Face - Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

* Arms - Can they lift both arms?

* Speech - Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

* Time - Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call triple zero straight away.

Source: AAP

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