In this medical video learn how treating stroke has been a daunting task for researchers. Now, this device may be an important step forward in solving the problem.
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Jennifer Matthews: Olivia Smith is used to caring for other people. She was a kindergarten teacher for 25 years. But a stroke five months ago changed everything. Olivia Smith: When I first woke up, I couldn't do anything but lie in bed. Jennifer Matthews: Now, her husband cares for her ... And every move is a challenge. Olivia Smith: I pray for every step. At one point I couldn't eat, so I had to pray for each mouth of food that I would take. Jennifer Matthews: But Olivia is lucky to be alive. She was one of the first people in the world to try a new stroke therapy. If patients aren't treated with an IV drug within three hours of a stroke, doctors typically use a corkscrew device that travels through the brain clot and pulls it out -- but it can be risky. Dr. Demetrius Lopes: You are putting yourself at a bit of a risk of potentially rupturing the blood vessel. Jennifer Matthews: Now this device called the Penumbra works without going into the clot. Doctors snake it up to the brain through an incision in the leg. If the clot is soft, the device breaks it up and sucks it in from the front. If the clot is hard, a wire basket fits around the clot and pulls it in. It can be used up to eight hours after a stroke. Dr. Demetrius Lopes: This device comes to us as a tremendous gift, to finally be able to address a problem that has been haunting us for years and years. Jennifer Matthews: It saved Olivia's life. She knows the road to recovery will be a long one. Olivia Smith: It's like starting back all over again. Jennifer Matthews: But she says it's a fight she'll win. This is Jennifer Matthews reporting.