Smartphone App Can Detect Stroke

Dr. Caleb Ferguson, a researcher at the University of Technology in Sydney Australia, is heading a unique study to prevent strokes in patients. They are using a smartphone app to help nurses retain vital knowledge in regards to managing people with AF (atrial fibrillation), who are vulnerable to suffer debilitating strokes. Many strokes are caused by AF, which is Australia’s second leading cause of disability and death in older adults. These strokes cause considerably more damage, but may be preventable thanks to the new Smartphone app.

Nurses Unprepared in Caring for AF Patients
Nurses face many difficulties in delivering an effective treatment regime for atrial fibrillation. According to Doctor Ferguson, a recent and alarming study of nurses show they are poorly informed about the complexities of atrial fibrillation in their patients. One underperformed task was administering blood thinner injections, critical in preventing strokes in AF patients.

Other studies have shown 1/4 of AF patients quit taking the medicine Warifin (to prevent blood clots) within the first year of treatment. As well, 1/3 of hospitalised AF patients with heart failure were not administered blood thinner medications prior to discharge. To complicate matters, people with AF suffer disproportionally from physical and mental impairments, living alone and homelessness.

It is the role of the smartphone app to inform and educate nurses about the difficulty of managing stroke prevention measures due to atrial fibrillation. For AF patients and their families, the hope is a preventative one, depending on early diagnosis and treatments. Nurses are to play an indispensable role in learning to be proactive in assessing risks in their patients, and counseling about lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise that can reduce the risk of strokes due to atrial fibrillation. 

Qstream – The Mobile App for Increasing Medical Knowlege Retention
Researchers are to examine the usage of Qstream, an educational methodology designed at Harvard Medical School. Qstream is delivered on mobile phones and dramatically increases retention of detailed medical knowledge lasting as long as 2 years. This technology uses what is called spaced learning, and the Australian study is hoping this will improve their nursing workforce. 

In the upcoming study, 150 nurses will be participating from Hospitals including Prince of Wales, Sutherland, and the Royal Prince Alfred. By using the Qstream App to enhance their knowledge retention on atrial fibrillation, the nurses will be tested on a variety of patient scenarios lasting 6 weeks. Although not expected to be a complete examination of the Qstream methodology, Doctor Ferguson is hoping to lay the foundation for future studies that will further examine spaced learning technology on smartphones and the impact it may have on patients with AF. 

Spaced learning apps on smartphones may one day provide nurses the knowledge to proactively treat atrial fibrillation and prevent strokes. Smarter nurses can determine early diagnosis, rapid medical assistance, and provide educational counseling to their patients.

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