Scientists are developing a smartphone app that can see the symptoms of a stroke as they happen – seeing a blurry face and slurred speech.
In the US one person suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and in the UK every five minutes, and acting quickly is key to preventing lasting brain damage.
However, these symptoms, which include a drooping face on one side, slurred speech or an inability to raise an arm, are not easy to recognize in an emergency.
Now, scientists have created an app that can help family and friends recognize a stroke as it happens – prompting them to call an ambulance.
Scientists at the University of California have developed an app that uses facial recognition and speech patterns to detect whether someone has had a stroke with almost 100 percent accuracy (file photo)
The app, called FAST.AI, uses video of the patient’s face to check 69 facial points, measure arm movements and detect speech changes.
A team from the University of California tested almost 270 patients who had been diagnosed with an acute stroke, within 72 hours of being admitted to the hospital.
Neurologists who examine patients test the app and then compare the results with their own clinical diagnosis.
Analysis found the app accurately detected stroke-related facial expressions in nearly 100 percent of patients.
The app also accurately detects arm weakness in more than two-thirds of cases, and preliminary analysis shows that it can also detect slurred speech.
It is important to recognize the signs of a stroke immediately because clot-busting drugs should be given within three hours of the onset of symptoms.
The sooner treatment is administered, the greater the chance of a better recovery.
Researchers say the study is ongoing and the app is still under development and not available to the public.
Author Radoslav Raychev said: ‘Many stroke patients do not arrive at the hospital in time for treatment, which is one of the important reasons to recognize stroke symptoms and call. [for help] directly.
‘These preliminary results confirm the app reliably identifies the symptoms of acute stroke as accurately as neurologists, and they will help to improve the accuracy of the app in detecting signs and symptoms of stroke.’
The findings were presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Dallas, Texas.