Gordon Center partners with American Heart Association to launch new Advanced Stroke Life Support® curriculum
Every 40 seconds someone in the United States suffers a stroke. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain either is blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, the affected part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so brain cells die. The number one priority for these patients is transport to an appropriate hospital as quickly as possible for treatment to prevent or slow the death of brain cells. It means every person involved in the care of a stroke patient – from paramedic to nurse to physician – needs to be trained to detect the signs of a stroke quickly and arrange for prompt transportation and treatment.
At the Michael S. Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation in Medical Education at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, experts have developed and disseminated the most innovative curricula for stroke detection and management since the 1990s. “The Advanced Stroke Life Support program, ASLS for short, was developed at the Gordon Center in the late 1990s, on the heels of groundbreaking research that showed a blood clot-dissolving therapy was effective in patients with an ischemic stroke,” says Ivette Motola, M.D., MPH, prehospital and emergency training division director and the Center’s assistant director. “Before this therapy became widely available, many patients ended up being severely disabled or, sadly, died.”
For stroke patients, this meant there was now a “golden window” of opportunity when they could be treated effectively, resulting in increased survivability and reduced disability. This is where the Gordon Center’s ASLS program has been making all the difference – it provides healthcare professionals the training to make a rapid evaluation and then stabilize and care for stroke patients. The ASLS curriculum is already used by hundreds of hospitals, fire rescue, ambulance, and EMS systems, as well as educational institutions throughout Florida, the country, and the world.
As new knowledge about stroke and its treatment becomes available constantly, the Gordon Center updates the ASLS curriculum regularly. “We distill all of that updated knowledge and incorporate it into the program. We have seen impressive developments in stroke management and care, particularly since 2015 when endovascular therapy for ischemic stroke was shown to be beneficial,” says Motola. Endovascular therapy involves an interventionalist placing a catheter in the blocked artery and removing the clot.
The latest iteration of the curriculum has been developed in partnership with the American Heart Association (AHA) and was piloted in the spring of this year. Always exploring more innovative and effective ways to develop educational tools to advance the care of stroke patients, the AHA and the Gordon Center designed the new program as a blended learning course format. This means that learners complete a part of the program on an e-learning platform and then go to a training center for hands-on skills practice and evaluation. The platform is also adaptive, allowing learners to skip certain elements of the curriculum based on an assessment of their prior knowledge and their experience in the field. A novice learner who doesn’t work a lot with stroke patients will get much more of the content than a seasoned stroke neurologist or nurse, who uses this information in daily practice.
“Partnering with the AHA, a respected and longstanding leader in health care education, with a mission and vision aligned with ours, is an amazing opportunity for us and the people we serve,” says Motola. “The collaboration has been very productive, and we are proud to have a partner in the AHA that is equally committed to saving lives.”
The Gordon Center for Simulation and Innovation in Medical Education’s mission is to improve the training of health professionals and first responders to enhance patient outcomes and save lives. To learn more, visit gordoncenter.miami.edu