Back on the Field

Most Friday nights in autumn, you’ll find Kent Holsopple on the football field. For 33 years, the Sherman resident has refereed football games at high schools around the area.

When he suffered a stroke last spring, he was afraid he’d be sidelined. “I thought I would miss the season,” he said.

But with the help of his quick-thinking wife and rapid treatment at Memorial Medical Center, Kent made a full recovery and was ready for the first game of the season.

“My wife’s reaction and the treatment I received made all the difference in the world,” he said.

On the morning of April 8, 2018, Kent, 54, was preparing to go on a walk with his wife, Janet, when he noticed a strange sensation in his head and a ringing in his ears. He found himself unable to tie his shoes. He realized that something was wrong, but didn’t suspect that he was experiencing a stroke.

But when Janet saw him struggling to speak, she called 911. “I can still remember the look on her face,” Kent said. “She knew right away what was going on.”

Memorial Medical Center is among the fewer than 3 percent of hospitals nationwide designated by The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as a Comprehensive Stroke Center. The designation recognizes hospitals with the technology, resources and personnel necessary to treat all stroke patients, including those with complex needs.

No matter what type of stroke a patient experiences, rapid treatment is essential. During a stroke, as many as 30,000 brain cells die every second, and every minute of delay can lead to serious long-term consequences.

“When treating stroke, every second counts,” said Tiffany Whitaker, director of Comprehensive Stroke Services at MMC. “Our Stroke Response Team is well-trained to respond immediately when a stroke case arrives at the hospital, and we have systems in place to ensure that patients are diagnosed and receive treatment as soon as they arrive.”

Kent was taken by ambulance to MMC, where he received tPA, a “clotbusting” drug. When administered quickly, it can reduce the long-term consequences of stroke. While some stroke patients, like Kent, respond well to this drug, others require more intensive treatment and follow-up care.

“As a Comprehensive Stroke Center, we have the ability to perform complex neurovascular surgical procedures 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Whitaker said. “We also have an intensive care unit specifically dedicated for stroke patients that provides specialized care.”

Later that night, as he recovered in his hospital room, Kent was unable to use his right hand or talk. Like many stroke patients, he expected a long recovery as he worked to overcome the deficits caused by damage to his brain. But by Monday, with the help of inpatient rehab, his condition had improved. “It started getting better every day,” he said.

Thanks in part to the speed with which he received treatment, Kent avoided many of the long-term consequences of stroke. By Friday, he had been released from the hospital. And by Tuesday, he was back at work part-time. “My co-workers were surprised to see me,” he said.

Kent learned that his stroke had been caused by a previously undiagnosed heart defect, which his doctors plan to repair in the coming year. He’s grateful for the care he received from the stroke team at MMC, and for his full recovery.

“I couldn’t have asked for any better treatment,” he said.

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