Published on June 11, 2019

Silver Cross to Host Women and Stroke Program June 20

Panel of Experts to Discuss Condition that Affects 1 in 5 Women

When you’re an active woman in your early 50s, the last thing you’re thinking about is surviving a stroke. But for Kerri O. of Homer Glen, that became her daily goal starting last September. That’s when Kerri, fresh off a relaxing vacation and working on her laptop to catch up on some work, found herself slumped on the floor of her Homer Glen home and unable to move.

Luckily Kerri’s sister was home, recognized the signs of a stroke and called an ambulance. In the Silver Cross Hospital Emergency Department, a Code Stroke protocol readies advanced lifesaving technology even before a patient’s arrival.

Dr. Reynolds and Dr. Kahn

Photo caption: Neuroendovascular surgeon Dr. Matthew Reynolds (left) and neurologist Dr. Sreepathy Kannan examine an image of a brain in the Silver Cross Hospital's angiography suite. The two will be speaking at the hospital's upcoming "Women and Stroke" panel program June 20.

When Kerri arrived, doctors performed a CT scan and determined she was having an ischemic stroke causes by a blood clot. They immediately administered the clot-busting drug known as tPA (short for tissue plasminogen activator), which works by dissolving the blood clot and improving blood flow to the brain. For maximum benefit, tPA should be given within a short 3-hour time frame to stop and often reverse a stroke’s effects.

After emergency treatment at Silver Cross, Kerri was airlifted to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood where specialists successfully performed a craniotomy (the temporary surgical removal of a piece of the skull) to access the blood clot and relieve pressure on her brain.

After a five-day hospital stay there, Kerri came back to Silver Cross, this time for comprehensive inpatient rehabilitation care at the renowned Shirley Ryan AbilityLab at Silver Cross. There she worked with a team of rehabilitation experts under the medical direction of Dr. Megan Parkes. With daily sessions in physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy Kerri learned how to walk, speak and regain her memory.

“I can’t stress how important the trust that the Silver Cross professional staff instills in their patients and family members is to recovery,” Kerri said. “My sisters not only learned how they could help me regain ability to do daily activities such as dressing, showering and how to sync my brain with my body, but they were constantly encouraged to actively participate in my goals to get well. I started bed-ridden at ground zero, but the staff kept us focused on recovery through education, therapy and humor. They also introduced me to rehab devices which enabled me accelerate a return to pre-stroke abilities,” Kerri explained.

She credits her survival to a team of expert emergency specialists, brain and neuroendovascular surgeons for their quick diagnosis and treatment; and Dr. Parkes and the AbilityLab rehabilitation team who enabled and encouraged her recovery.

Silver Cross is designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, meaning the hospital meets important standards to support better outcomes for stroke care, including a dedicated stroke-focused program staffed by qualified stroke professionals, individualized stroke care patient involvement in their care and more.

“Knowing how to prevent a stroke is important; knowing where to go can save your life,” adds Penny Eriks, BSN, RN, Silver Cross Stroke Program Coordinator.

The Silver Cross Neuroscience Institute, with a staff of experienced specialists, offers the full continuum of care that includes preventing strokes and halting them in their path; diagnosing and treating brain tumor malformations of the cerebral vascular system; cerebral aneurysms, carotid stenosis and more.

The Road to Recovery

Currently Kerri attends outpatient rehabilitation three days a week. She walks with a cane and orthotic ankle brace; she’s determined to complete her recovery in order to return to work.

While she didn’t display any of the usual risk factors for stroke, doctors suspect a heart defect at birth could have been a contributing factor. As the youngest of four sisters, Kerri has told her older siblings to be proactive with their health too. And, she encourages everyone to get immediate medical attention if you suspect you or someone you know may be having a stroke by using the F.A.S.T. acronym: one side of the face is drooping; an arm is drifting downward; speech is slurred; and it’s time to call 9-1-1.

“One in five women will have a stroke,” explains Dr. Matthew Reynolds, neuroendovascular surgeon and stroke expert on staff at the Silver Cross Neuroscience Institute. “In fact, it’s the third leading cause of death for women and kills more women than men every year.”

On Thursday, June 20, Silver Cross Hospital is hosting a free Women and Stroke panel lecture with a team of experts who will cover everything from stroke prevention through treatment. Speakers include Dr. Reynolds; neurosurgeon Dr. M. Kamran Khan; neurologist Dr. Sreepathy Kannan; emergency physician Dr. Georgios Filiadis; and Stroke Program Coordinator Penny Eriks, BSN, RN.

Guests will receive valuable information, enjoy a light dinner and have the chance to win a Bose SoundLink II speaker.

To register, visit or call 1-888-660-HEAL (4325).

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.