Earlier this month, Lester Y. Leung, MD was named Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Tufts Medical Center. A board-certified vascular neurologist, Dr. Leung is focused on reducing the impact of stroke on individuals and society, particularly through improvement in prehospital, in-hospital, and post-acute stroke care, and through the prevention of initial and recurrent strokes. He has a particular interest in silent brain infarction and microhemorrhages as harbingers of future stroke and seeks to better understand how these can guide prevention therapies.
Dr. Leung also is a thought leader in the diagnosis, management and long-term consequences of stroke in young adults. He founded and serves as the Director of the Stroke and Young Adults (SAYA) Program at Tufts MC, which helps identify the causes of stroke in young patients, optimize prevention of future strokes, and assess and treat late complications. The program also provides counseling on stroke survivorship.
The future of stroke care
Tufts MC Neurologist-in-Chief David E. Thaler, MD, PhD, the previous Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center, elevated Dr. Leung to the position, as the Department of Neurology and allied departments work together to re-organize how they provide stroke care in a rapidly evolving landscape of medical and surgical acute stroke treatment.
We asked Dr. Leung how new research and new guidelines may impact stroke care in the future and other changes that we should expect in the field – he identified these three key areas:
Balancing prevention, acute care, and rehabilitation – “In the past, the focus of stroke centers has solely been on acute stroke care, but the NIH and the stroke community have identified the need to include stroke prevention and rehabilitation as equally important objectives. At Tufts MC, we aim to achieve excellence in all three,” said Dr. Leung.
Pre-hospital triage of patients – “We have more work to do on directing EMS and patients on where to go at first sign of the stroke,” said Dr. Leung. “Advancements in the use of endovascular surgery have raised questions of whether patients should visit their community hospital Emergency Departments first or proceed directly to an academic medical center to receive combined medical and surgical treatment for acute ischemic stroke. This triage process will likely evolve rapidly over the next few years.”
Better stroke patient support – “At Tufts MC, we’ve recently hired a full-time stroke coordinator to help navigate patients and their families as they make long-term care decisions,” said Dr. Leung. “The stroke coordinator will help make the transition out of the hospital a smoother and less confusing process. We also plan to add more support groups and community outreach in the coming years.”