May 17, 2020

World Stroke Day: Children Can Be Victims, Too

Patient Care
Patient Care
Admin
3 min
The risk of stroke in children is greatest in the first year of life.
October 29 is World Stroke Day, which was established by the World Stroke Organization in 2006 to help spread public awareness of the worlds high stroke...

October 29 is World Stroke Day, which was established by the World Stroke Organization in 2006 to help spread public awareness of the world’s high stroke risk and stroke prevalence.

Stroke is the number four cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability in the U.S. and affects more than 15 million people worldwide.

In recent years, stroke has been increasingly recognized in children. Diagnosis and treatment remains to be difficult, however, due to the diversity of underlying risk factors and the absence of a uniform treatment approach.

According to journals from the American Stroke Association, finding the cause of a stroke is vital to providing the right treatment and preventing more injury. Doctors can find a cause in about two-thirds of the cases, the association reports.

Ischemic strokes, the most common type in children, are usually related to lack of oxygen during birth, sickle cell anemia or infections such as meningitis, among others. Hemorrhagic strokes can be caused by a head injury, an aneurysm or diseases that affect blood clotting.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs of stroke in children are often similar to signs in adults, which can include sudden weakness, slurred speech or blurred vision. Things to look for are seizures in one area of the body (such as an arm or leg), problems eating, trouble breathing, early preference for use of one hand over the other and developmental delays.

Diagnosis

The most important clues that would make a doctor think of a stroke are the symptoms a child is experiencing and how the child looks. If a doctor suspects that a child’s symptoms might be caused by a stroke, there are several ways to confirm the diagnosis.

One of the most common ways to test for strokes is a head CT, a special type of X-ray that takes a photo of the brain. Another test is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

If doctors still need to get a closer look at the arteries that feed the brain, there are several tests that can be run. A transcranial Doppler uses ultrasound waves to look at the blood flowing through the arteries in the brain or an angiogram uses X-rays to take more detailed photos of the arteries in the back of the neck and head.

Treatment

Treatment for stroke is determined by how old the child is, what signs and symptoms he or she experiences, which area of the brain is affected, how much brain tissue was damaged and whether an ongoing condition was the cause of the stroke.

At this time, no treatment exists that will fix brain cells that have died. Fortunately, the brain has other ways of responding to an injury. Undamaged brain cells can learn to perform the jobs of cells that have died, “pitching in” and taking over the job the injured part of the brain used to do.

While retraining the brain is slow and difficult, neurorehabilitation is vital and efficient in treating children after a stroke has occurred. Neurorehabilitation includes many different therapies, such as physical or speech therapy, that are selected to treat individual symptoms.

Other treatment options are specific to the individual child. For example, a child who has seizures because of a stroke might need anti-seizure medication. Some might need to take blood-thinning medications.

Most children who have had strokes are able to function normally in society and grow to be productive members of their communities

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Jun 13, 2021

How healthcare can safeguard itself against cyberthreats

#Cybersecurity
#cyberattacks
#digitaltransformation
#covid19
Jonathan Miles
6 min
Jonathan Miles, Head of Strategic Intelligence and Security Research at Mimecast, tells us how the healthcare sector can protect itself from attacks

One of the most fundamental lessons from the COVID crisis is that health should always be a priority.  In a similar fashion to the human body that frequently fights off viruses and foreign invaders that intend to cause it harm, the sector itself is now a prime target for another type of external threat: cyberattacks.

The figures speak for themselves: between December and January this year, hospitals in the UK were at 89% capacity, with 7,000 fewer available beds than there usually are. As the pandemic increased pressure on hospitals, clinics, and research facilities to create a treatment for patients globally, it has left the sector exposed to hackers who, like a virus, have been targeting it relentlessly and evolving their tactics. 

From patient records being held ransom, to fake emails claiming to originate from the UN WHO, the NHS, or vaccine centres, through to attacks on the cold supply chain to find out the secret formula of the COVID vaccine, the healthcare industry is facing constant cyberattacks and struggling to cope. This threat is unlikely to go away anytime soon – and as such, the industry needs to take a proactive, preventative stance to stay safe in a dynamic digital world. 

Going digital 

The responsive nature of healthcare – particularly of hospitals – means that efficiency is crucial to the industry’s standard operations. To support this, the sector has been embracing technological advancements that can improve the quality of work, enabling staff to meet pressing deadlines, and enhancing patient care. For example, the industry has been digitising records and improving its ways of working through digital means over the past few years. 

This shift is critical to offer high quality patient care; yet, it also means the sector has become more dependent on IT, which can come with a risk if cybersecurity processes employed are deemed as inadequate. 

Without the correct security measures in place, the desired efficiency gains realised, can be easily lost in a heartbeat. Simply put, an elementary glitch in the system can have a tremendous ripple effect on many areas, from accessing patient records and conducting scans, to maintaining physical security and protecting the intellectual property of experimental treatment development.

To prevent this, healthcare organisations need to ensure they’re considering cybersecurity as part of their overall digital transformation strategy – and setting the right foundations to create a culture where safety goes hand in hand with patient care. 

Strengthening defences

Before implementing cybersecurity process, healthcare organisations need to assess the potential risks they face. Depending on how much confidential data the trust has, where it is stored, who has access to it and via which means, the cybersecurity strategy and associated solutions will change. 

It’s fair to say that a medical device start-up where all employees have a corporate-sanctioned laptop and access data via a VPN will have radically different needs to a large hospital with hundreds of frontline workers connecting to the hospital’s Wi-Fi using their personal device. 

These requirements will pale by comparison to a global pharmaceutical giant with offices in multiple locations, a large R&D department researching new treatments for complex diseases and a fully integrated supply chain. Considering the existing setup and what the organisations is looking to achieve with its digital transformation strategy will therefore have an immediate impact on the cybersecurity strategy.

Despite this, there are fundamentals that any organisation should implement: 
Review and test your back-up policy to ensure it is thorough and sufficient – By checking that the organisation’s back-up is running smoothly, IT teams can limit any risks of disruption in the midst of an incident and of losing data permanently.

In our recent State of Email Security report, we found that six out of ten organisations have been victims of ransomware in 2020. As a result, afflicted organisations have lost an average of six days to downtime. One third of organisations even admitted that they failed to get their data back, despite paying the ransom. In the healthcare industry, this could mean losing valuable patient records or data related to new treatments – two areas the sector cannot afford to be cavalier about.

Conduct due diligence across the organisation’s supply chain – Healthcare organisations should review their ways of working with partners, providers and regulatory institutions they work with in order to prevent any weak link in their cybersecurity chain. Without this due diligence, organisations leave themselves exposed to the risks of third party-led incidents. 

Roll out mandatory cybersecurity awareness training - Healthcare organisations shouldn’t neglect the training and awareness of their entire staff – including frontline workers who may not access the corporate network on a regular basis. According to our State of Email Security report, only one fifth of organisations carry out ongoing cyber awareness training.

This suggests it is not widely considered as a fundamental part of most organisations cyber-resilience strategy, despite the fact many employees rely on their organisation’s corporate network to work. By providing systematic training, healthcare organisations can help workers at all levels better understand the current cyberthreats they face, how they could impact their organisation, the role they play in defending the networks, and develop consistent, good cybersecurity hygiene habits to limit the risks of incidents. 
Consider a degree of separation – Information and Operational Technology (IT and OT) networks should be separated.

Although mutually supported and reliance on each other, employees shouldn’t be accessing one via the other. This should be complemented by a considered tried and tested contingency and resiliency plan that allows crucial services to function unabated should there be a compromise. Similarly, admin terminals should not have internet access to afford a degree of hardening and protection for these critical accounts.

As the sector becomes a common target for fraudulent and malicious activity, putting cybersecurity at the core of the organisation’s operations is critical. It will help limit the risks of disruption due to cyberattacks, reduce time spent by the cybersecurity team to resolve easily avoidable errors, and ensure that institutions can deliver patient care, safe in the knowledge that their networks are safe.  

Fighting future threats

With technology continuing to change the face of healthcare, the surface area and vectors available for attacks by malicious actors is constantly increasing. With the introduction of apps, networked monitoring devices, and a need for communication, the attack vector is ever expanding, a trend that needs to be monitored and secured against.

To prevent any damage to patients, staff, or the organisation they are responsible for, healthcare leaders must put security front and centre of their digital transformation strategy. Only then can the sector harness the full benefits of technology. Doing this should include implementing cybersecurity awareness training to challenge misconceptions around security, encourage conversation, and to ensure employee knowledge of the security basics and threats faced. 

This ultimately allows healthcare organisations to do what they do best: provide the highest standard of patient care, safe in the knowledge that their operations, patients, and data are safe.

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