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Neurological emergencies should not be delayed: Neurologist

Hyderabad: Dr.Sudhir Kumar Senior Consultant Neurologist, Institute of Neurosciences, Apollo Hospitals said that India is in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic, a highly contagious viral infection. 

The government has enforced a strict lockdown to prevent the infection from rapidly spreading. People are advised to remain indoors at all times, except for emergencies and essential services. Lockdown has resulted in the “flattening of the curve” with a significant reduction in the number of people with infections (as compared to many other countries). 

However, lockdown and fear of COVID-19 have had a negative impact on certain aspects of healthcare. There are reports from across the world that people are avoiding hospitals, even for medical emergencies such as heart attack and stroke. Heart attacks and brain strokes are the leading causes of death and disability. They should be treated within the “golden hour” to prevent disability and save lives he advised.

Sharing a recent experience he said that he had .received a call from a close friend informing the Doctor that his 65-year old uncle has developed mild weakness of his right hand and leg for 30 minutes. Suspecting a brain stroke, the Doctor advised rushing the patient to the hospital for an urgent CT scan of the brain. I asked him to keep me informed. One hour later, he informed that his uncle is reluctant to go to the hospital due to fear of contracting COVID-19 infection.

About six hours later, he called me again to inform that his uncle’s weakness had worsened and he was unable to stand or walk. He was also unable to speak. At this stage, he agreed to come to the hospital. CT scan showed a large clot in the brain. “Clot-buster” treatment could not be given, as the “golden hour” was lost. 

Timely treatment could have resulted in rapid recovery, however, now, he is likely to remain disabled for months. Treatment of neurological emergencies cannot be delayed. Patients with symptoms suggestive of paralysis fits, brain fever and unconsciousness should be rushed to the hospital, as emergency services in our hospital operate round the clock. Timely treatment can be life-saving.

Hospitals have made adequate provisions for sanitization and all precautions are in place to prevent COVID-19. At Apollo hospitals, patients with COVID-19 are treated in a separate standalone building away from the non-COVID premises. 

Finally, patients with routine neurological problems need not visit the hospital and can avail teleconsultation facility via Apollo 24/7 app. Video consultation with a specialist can be done from the comforts of your home via this app.

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