DOVER -- "Time is tissue when it comes to preventing brain damage from a stroke."

Dr. Thomas Kelly, vice president of medical affairs at Union Hospital, said immediate treatment is critical to reducing paralysis and death from stroke.

That's why he welcomes the hospital's collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic in the Telestroke Network.

"Telemedicine technology will enable the doctor in Cleveland to see and speak to the patient, conduct the examination alongside the hospital ED physician and nurse, and help select the most effective treatment," Dr. Kelly said.

"Time is critical to stopping a stroke and preventing disability or death," Dr. Kelly explained. "On average, 15 to 20 people in Tuscarawas County suffer some form of stroke each month. The Telestroke Network has the potential to benefit many of those patients, but only if stroke symptoms are recognized and the patient brought to the hospital within a few hours of the start of the symptoms."

Dr. Nathan Johnson is chief of the Emergency Medicine Department and said the Telestroke Network will expand the window of time available to limit the damaging effects of a stroke.

"We'll have more opportunity to use a drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or 'tPA,'" Dr. Johnson said. "tPA has the potential to dissolve a clot and stop tissue damage caused by a blocked artery."

"We need to have the same awareness and quick action when it comes to signs of a stroke," Dr. Johnson said.

He said the warning signs of stroke include the sudden beginning of:

Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.

Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

Trouble seeing out of one or both eyes.

Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

Sudden or severe headache with no known cause.

"Your greatest opportunity to survive a stroke and limit disability is to call 9-1-1 and seek emergency treatment at the first sign of any stroke symptoms," Dr. Johnson added.