Working with partners like the Royal Flying Doctors Service, Ambulance Victoria and engineers from RMIT University, we plan to integrate brain imaging into emergency planes and helicopters to develop the world’s first air stroke ambulances.
This will require the design of ultra-lightweight and low-cost brain imaging devices that will provide essential images of patients’ brains at the scene of the stroke.
Regardless of geographical location, brain images would then be sent immediately to city-based stroke physicians who will then diagnose the type of stroke that has occurred – within minutes. This overcomes a major gap in care as stroke physicians are rarely located in rural hospital settings.
Our research plan
Our national team is ready to tackle this massive global problem and to address an enormous unmet clinical need.
We know stroke is the second most common cause of death globally and a leading cause of disability. In Australia, there are about 38,000 stroke events annually, or more than 100 a day, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The Stroke Foundation’s data from Deloitte Access Economics tells us that 27,428 Australians will experience their first stroke in a 12-month period. Unfortunately, many survivors of a first stroke will have another, especially if prevention medication is not taken and recommended lifestyle changes are not maintained.
There are an estimated 445,000 stroke survivors living in Australia, the majority with a disability that impacts their everyday life. Today, someone in Australia suffers a new stroke every 19 minutes, according to the Stroke Foundation. By 2050 this will almost double to every 10 minutes, and new data tells us there will be 819,900 Australian stroke survivors.
As well as saving lives, our research plan will deliver new imaging technologies, digital telehealth across the nation, education programs and thousands of jobs in medical technology industries.
The chain of survival for stroke begins with early access to brain imaging to help health practitioners to accurately diagnose and then treat.
Rapid therapy after sophisticated brain scanning impacts lives and reduces lifelong disability. We know that these treatments work. Now is the time to make them available for all Australians.
The outcomes of our collective research effort will deliver:
- Brain scanners developed for the mobile setting and integrated into air and road ambulances that are tested and validated in the marketplace and clinical settings.
- A validated model of pre-hospital stroke care to enhance capacity and capability for translational research within Australia’s health and medical research sector.
- Generate commercial returns to ensure the sustainability of the Australian Stroke Alliance. This will enable reinvestment in future technologies, to be developed and built in Australia.
We are ready to offer the right stroke care at the right time, no matter where someone lives.
It is through collaborations with consumers that we are reminded of the potential for us to make a difference. We often refer to DALYs – disability adjusted life years – a term used widely by the research community to assess the impact of our interventions.
The Australian Stroke Alliance has calculated that some 45,000 DALYs will be saved over 30 years through our interventions.