Several hundred are expected to live with an acute stroke, with many unable to travel or report to work, said Kwang-Feng Du, a professor of clinical affairs for stroke at Texas A&M University Health Sciences Center (TAMUSC), one of the country’s leading experts in stroke care.

Fourteen million to 24 million Americans have a stroke, mostly in younger adults, and 90 percent of them live at least a year after the stroke with few surviving beyond a year, Du said.

Investigators are grappling with ethical issues in the hospital, officials say, when they could help patients navigate social distancing and leave the hospital.

Du, who is also director of the Texas Tech Transportation, People and Mobility Research Reserve, is the director of the University Health Science Center Limitations and Safety Institute (URLSCI) facility and an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Texas Tech.

The 15,000-plus people expected to lack the ability to leave the hospital for work include those who cannot go home from work or have to work in an outpatient setting, he said.

Key issues moving forward for these patients include self-isolation, use of electric wheelchairs, delayed discharge from the hospital on time and transportation to and from the hospital, as well as a lack of ability to go to social gatherings or to work from home, Du said.

The university’s research facility one mile from the hospital, about 3,000 square feet, is a medical simulation center for stroke patients. Using this center, researchers are developing models that look at things such as the length of a woman’s urinary tract, blood circulation and stroke symptoms, said Dr. Caeleb Dressel of Huntsman Health System in Utah, who also is director of the simulation center.

Du is involved in a new study and was interviewed by the Redwood Institute for Medical Research. He said the Redwood Institute found the Redwood Institute provides “very good education” about how to staff the hospital and care for and manage the medical staff with neurocognitive and affective support.

Du said the institute’s research also focuses on being cautious about who they hire and how it affects how long patients stay in the hospital, when they return to work and how they feel about it. “I don’t want people to come into the clinic with a brain injury and say: ‘I don’t know how long they will live,’” he said. “I would rather ask how long those patients will live and discuss the best plan of care.”

The Redwood Institute provides “very good education” at both a hands-on-care-environment level, such as hand-washing and home caution about certain medications and not doing subjects that can increase reflex blurting, he said.

Du said this additional effort will help the Redwood Institute promote adequate care and finding ways of quickly treating dementia patients who were previously denied neuroimaging examinations, as well as pushing veterans who cannot tuck into their beds and using a walk-in, so they can quickly take advantage of therapies.

Texas Tech Research Institute for Traumatic Brain Injury Research and Innovation funding also approved in 2017 brought about more than $500 million in projects that focus on carotid sinus pain syndrome, related research and studies on eye movement disorder and nausea in the elderly.

Additional funding for neurocognitive rehabilitation is available, Du said, for children and adolescents, and also for VA, Medicaid, and private insurance.

TAMUSC is trying to increase capacity by 50% or more, across campus and on-campus medical centers, Du said. “We are also offering more spending on these services to businesses,” he said.