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Neuro rehab technology

This app can identify stroke symptoms as they happen

“The app may help individuals assess the signs of a stroke without the need to recall the warning signs.”

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A new app for smartphones called FAST .AI could help individuals who are having a stroke or the people they are with identify common stroke symptoms in real time, prompting faster emergency response.

FAST .AI is a fully automated smartphone application for detection of severe stroke, which uses machine learning algorithms to recognise common stroke symptoms such as facial asymmetry (facial droop), arm weaknesses and speech changes.

The app uses a facial video of the patient in order to examine 68 facial landmark points; sensors that measure arm movement and orientation; and voice recording detect speech changes. Information from each test was sent to a database server for analysis.

FAST .AI’s performance was validated by researchers by testing close to 270 patients with a diagnosis of acute stroke (41 per cent women; average age of 71 years) within 72 hours of hospital admission at four major metropolitan stroke centres in Bulgaria, from July 2021 to July 2022.

Neurologists who examined the patients tested the app then compared FAST .AI results with their clinical impressions.

The analysis found:

  • The smart phone app accurately detected stroke-associated facial asymmetry in nearly 100% of patients.
  • The app accurately detected arm weakness in more than two-thirds of the cases.
  • And while the slurred speech module remains to be fully validated and tested, preliminary analyses confirmed that it may be able to reliably detect slurred speech, according to the researchers.

Clot-busting medication is most effect within three hours of symptoms beginning, meaning the quicker a stroke patient is seen to, the more likely they are to survive, and also less likely to suffer severe disability.

Study author, Radoslav I. Raychev, says: “Many stroke patients don’t make it to the hospital in time for clot-busting treatment, which is one reason why it is vital to recognize stroke symptoms and call for emergency services right away.

“These early results confirm the app reliably identified acute stroke symptoms as accurately as a neurologist, and they will help to improve the app’s accuracy in detecting signs and symptoms of stroke.”

A limitation of this study is that neurologists, not the individuals, family members or caregivers) conducted the screenings and taught patients how to use the application.

The mobile application is also still in development and not available to the public.

Daniel T. Lackland, American Stroke Association volunteer expert, says: “This abstract describes a validated approach for an easy assessment of signs of a stroke and the prompt to seek care. The app may help individuals assess the signs of a stroke without the need to recall the warning signs.”

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