Stroke Research Patient Stories

Research is an important component of The Stroke Center at Swedish. Hear from patients who have participated in stroke clinical research.

Carol Pollock - First patient enrolled in StELLAR study

Experimental Laser Therapy Beaming Hope for Improved Outcomes for Stroke Patients

When 65-old Carol Pollock had a stroke in the summer of 2011, she received not only the clot-busting drug, IV-TPA, but also a novel laser therapy to help rejuvenate damaged cells and tissue.

Carol P, Stroke Research Patient, and Dr. Ira Chang, Neurologist

Carol Pollock and Neurologist Dr. Ira Chang discuss participation in stroke clinical research

When a stroke occurs, tissue that would normally receive nutrients and oxygen is starved. This leads to tissue damage. The hope is that with laser therapy the damaged tissue can be repaired. Yes, "hope" – because Carol, a Loveland, Colorado resident, was the first patient in an experimental treatment called StELLAR.

Swedish is One of Three Locations Using Laser Therapy for Stroke Recovery

Swedish Medical Center, partnering with the non-profit Colorado Neurological Institute (CNI), in Denver, Colorado is one of three sites in the nation enrolling patients in this study to explore the potential benefit of laser therapy for stroke recovery.

For Carol, the benefits continue. On her 90-day return visit to Swedish Medical Center for an evaluation with neurologist Ira Chang, MD, Carol showed hardly any deficits due to the stroke and was in good spirits about her recovery.

The Decision to Participate in a Stroke Clinical Trial

Carol P, Stroke Research Patient, with her sons.

Carol Pollock and her sons.

Carol's sons, Kevin and Keith Pollock, said that during the hectic time of their mother's stroke diagnosis, they had to make the call on whether to enroll her in the study. Side effects seemed minimal and Kevin commented, "Experimental? Yes. But anything is better than nothing. Let her be a first if it stands to help others."

Once at Swedish, the stroke medical team administered IV-TPA and then, donning laser-protection goggles, went to work on Carol's shaved head during a one hour procedure. Carol stayed in the hospital for four days and returned home with minimal rehabilitation.

Dr. Chang commented that through her involvement in the study, Carol is contributing to research that will improve the care of stroke patients and possibly improve outcomes even further.

Using Laser Therapy with IV-TPA

"We may find that laser therapy in conjunction with IV-TPA can reduce even further the severity of stroke and help brain cells recover faster and sustain less lasting damage," commented Dr. Chang, who is a member of CNI. "And even if the study shows there's not any difference, then we will know that we need to search other avenues. We don't know what's really effective until we do this type of clinical research."

Thanks to people like Carol Pollock, research toward better stroke outcomes is moving forward.

Learn More: