Stroke Survivor Grateful for Treatment at UAMS’ Comprehensive Stroke Center

By Ben Boulden

“We decided to go to UAMS, and it was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life,” Gamalie, 55, said. “It’s not just one of the best places in the region for stroke care. It’s one of the best in the country.”

In addition to teaching physics at Arkansas State University in Beebe, Gamalie referees soccer games and tournaments in the area. The tournament he was officiating when he had his stroke was large enough that an ambulance was stationed nearby in case emergency transport was needed for someone with a sports injury, or someone like Gamalie.

Martin Radvany, M.D., instructs Gamalie in some simple physical tests of his neurological health.

Martin Radvany, M.D., instructs Gamalie in some simple physical tests of his neurological health.

Gamalie’s wife works at UAMS and that helped lead him to ask the ambulance personnel to take him to UAMS for treatment for what he thought at first was a heat stroke. Gamalie said he hadn’t hydrated as much as he normally does before a game, another reason he suspected heat stroke.

It was at UAMS he discovered, along with the physicians and nurses treating him, that what he had was a stroke caused by a blood clot obstructing the middle cerebral artery in his brain. Gamalie and his wife, who by then had joined him at the hospital, also discovered they were at the state’s only Comprehensive Stroke Center, UAMS Medical Center.

“It was actually our second stroke case that Saturday morning,” said Martin Radvany, M.D., who treated him. “One of my colleagues was on call and coming in for a case he knew about. He called me and said, ‘Marty, I have another stroke case.’ I said, ‘I’ll see you in 15 minutes.’ He already had started on the first case by the time I got in.”

Radvany is a professor and chief of interventional neuroradiology in the UAMS College of Medicine Department of Radiology.

“As a Comprehensive Stroke Center, we were able to treat two simultaneous cases,” Radvany said. “That’s one of the requirements to be a Comprehensive Stroke Center. We had it happen again recently with two other simultaneous cases.”

Radvany performed a procedure to pull the clot out and restore the blood flow. He said it took about 20 minutes, and then Gamalie was moved to the intensive care unit where he received a blood thinning medication. Before he was released the following Tuesday, Gamalie was given a full diagnostic workup to determine what might have caused the clot.

Radvany said that revealed a small hole in Gamalie’s heart through which a blood clot, possibly originating around one of Gamalie’s knees, was able to pass from one side of his body to the other and make its way to his brain.

Within minutes after his treatment, Gamalie said he recovered his balance and was feeling better. A week later, he even was able to fly to Europe to deliver a series of lectures.

Gamalie credits his recovery to the luck of having an ambulance nearby, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and being treated at the Comprehensive Stroke Center at UAMS.

“The ‘Comprehensive Stroke Center’ name is a bit of a misnomer because the certification is for all cerebrovascular disease,” Radvany said. “You not only have to be able to treat strokes, you have to be able to treat brain aneurysms, intracranial hemorrhage and arteriovenous malformations of the brain. This is the only hospital in Arkansas with a team in place to treat patients with cerebrovascular disease 24/7/365.”

In July 2018, UAMS Medical Center became the first and only health care provider in Arkansas to be certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by The Joint Commission. The Joint Commission is an independent, not-for-profit organization that evaluates and accredits more than 20,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States.