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HOUSTON A new kind of ambulance was unveiled in Houston Monday, and it is the nation s first ever Mobile Stroke Unit.

In front of TV cameras in the Texas Medical Center Dr. James Grotta introduced the potential future of stroke care.

The donated ambulance, packed with technology, is a project so promising that Grotta gave up his job directing the University of Texas Health Science Center Neurology Department to see it through.

In my opinion, this has the most potential of anything to cure more stroke patients. If we can show that this works, and more patients are treated, then I think it could have a huge impact, he said.

Strokes kill brain cells millions per minute.

It s kind of like when you have a gunshot wound to the brain. The tissue in the brain is dying. The difference is, if everything lines up right, this is a gunshot to the brain we can reverse, said Dr. David Persse, City of Houston EMS director.

Time is critical to recovery, which is why the unit interests Houston EMS.

The first thing we need to answer is: Is the science pointed in the right direction here? he said.

Armed with one CT scanner, a telemedicine camera and a four-person crew, the ambulance delivers ER quality care, treating patients some 30 to 60 minutes sooner.

They will still have to go to the emergency room, but they will get treated so much faster. It will, we think, more than double the likelihood of them completely recovering from their stroke, Grotta said.

It could also trim recovery time and costs. If so, this project could become the future of stroke treatment.

I think this is going to catch on and we re going to have five or 10 of these around the city and they ll be all over the country, Grotta said.

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