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Comprehensive Stroke Center

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center neurointerventional radiologist Dr. Rob Hixson talks about using the B.E.F.A.S.T. acronym to recognize stroke symptoms. 

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is recognized by The Joint Commission, the American Heart Association, and the American Stroke Association as a Joint Commission Comprehensive Stroke Center. This means we’re part of an elite group of health care providers dedicated to complete, highly-specialized care. We have the training, staff, and technology to receive and treat patients with the most complex strokes. Our physicians are on the cutting edge of stroke medicine, performing clinical trials and procedures not available anywhere else in East Tennessee. Click here to meet our stroke team.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when the blood flow to an area of the brain is interrupted by a blocked or broken blood vessel (vein, artery, or capillary). Blood can no longer travel to the affected area, and cells begin to die. Chemicals are then released that endanger more cells in a larger surrounding area of the brain. Without prompt medical treatment, including diagnostic screening and testing, neurology services, and rehabilitation, this larger area of the brain will also die. The result is lost or impaired mental and physical abilities that were once controlled by your brain. The degree of recovery for each patient is dependent on the amount of brain cells killed.

Did you know there are three basic types and each kind can affect a different part of your brain? They also have unique warning signs and symptoms, and can result in different outcomes.

Symptoms – B.E.F.A.S.T.

Here is a simple test to look for symptoms. Don’t forget time is important! 

Call 9-1-1


Is the person uncoordinated and having difficulty walking?


Ask the person if they have double or blurred vision.


Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?


Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?


Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Is the sentence repeated correctly?


If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important.

Warning signs and symptoms of stroke.
Click this infographic for important warning signs and symptoms.


Time lost is brain lost, so it’s important you understand the warning signs and how to reduce your risk. 


Fort Sanders Leads the Region’s Only Stroke Network

Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center is part of Covenant Health, the only network of stroke hospitals in East Tennessee, which all lead back to one. When patients need a higher level of care, they are transported to our hospital.

3 out of 4 patients who receive treatment for a stroke at Fort Sanders Regional walk out of the hospital. 

We’ve also received two stroke accreditations from the Commission on the Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF). These designations recognize our dedicated medical team, excellent nursing and therapy services, and state-of-the-art diagnostic screening, testing, treatment, and rehabilitation. 

Comprehensive stroke centers like ours are recognized as industry leaders and are responsible for influencing the importance of  highly-specialized care across the nation.

Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center

And only Fort Sanders Regional is home to the Patricia Neal Rehabilitation Center (PRNC), East Tennessee’s elite rehabilitation hospital for stroke, spinal cord and brain injury patients. PRNC is our region’s only stroke rehabilitation center accredited by CARF, the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities.

Learn More

For more information, click the links in the sidebar on this page or call (865) 673-FORT.

Patient Stories

  • Absolutely No Waiting

    Angela Miller will be the first to tell you that she has a stubborn streak, so, when she was awakened by a paralyzing stroke on May 7, she did exactly what she should not do – she returned to bed to “sleep on it.” It wasn’t until almost 8 hours later when Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center neurosurgeon Keith Woodward, MD, removed the blood clot from her brain that Miller learned just how fortunate she was to be alive.

  • FSR Receives National Recognition in Stroke, Cardiac Care

    Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center has received multiple national quality achievement awards from the American Heart Association.

  • Dodging Bullets

    Thanks to Keith Woodward, M.D., an interventional radiologist at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center, the 70-year-old veteran not only survived but emerged from the ordeal with only a slight balance issue.

  • A Greater Purpose

    Laverne VanDorselaer was celebrating her 89th birthday and moved to pack up her leftovers in a to-go box. “I couldn’t move my hand,” Laverne says. “I couldn’t understand why.”

  • Never Give Up

    Greeting guests as he strolls amid linen-covered tables, Hubert Smith commands the room. You would never know his secret if he chose not to share it. Smith, 65, is recovering from a stroke.

  • Thrombectomy: Removing a  stroke-causing clot

    Thrombectomy can mean the difference between a patient merely surviving a stroke, and a stroke patient returning to a full and active lifestyle.