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Medical Center's Little Machine Offers Big Chance at Walking Again - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Medical Center's Little Machine Offers Big Chance at Walking Again

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The University of Virginia Medical Center is the only hospital in Central Virginia that has a machine to cool you down from the inside out. For some patients, it can mean the difference between living and dying or walking and not walking.

After a brain injury or cardiac arrest, your body can suffer brain-swelling temperature spikes. That spike can lead to long-term brain damage. This new procedure helps your body cool down faster and more accurately than older methods.

The Coolgard machine works by inserting a catheter of ice cold saline into the vein and regulating a patient's temperature.

"It allows us to set a target temperature, be able to get that patient there very quickly which improves outcomes in our patients," explained Registered Nurse Michele Maddox, who works in the Neurological ICU. 

Other methods of using cooling blankets and ice-packs aren't as precise, and can take a lot longer. After suffering a brain injury or cardiac arrest, time means more than muscle: it means brain function.

Registered Nurse Mark Adams shared, "Patients would be in a vegetative state. This will allow us to give a therapy that will improve their quality of life."

UVA Medical Center has four machines and about 150 people in various units are trained to use them.

"We don't want anyone to be sick or suffer cardiac arrest or brain injury but when you do, you'll have a therapy that will hopefully send you home intact to your family," said Adams, who works in the Coronary Care Unit. 

This procedure isn't for every patient. It's only for adults, and those who've suffered critical injuries and though it's called coolgard, it can also warm the body to the right temperature too.

Reported by Annie Scholz
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