Patients and Visitors go to:

Stroke/Neurocritical Care

Patients: Visit the Stroke Center web site here.

The Stroke Division combines the resources of acute clinical treatment, prevention education, rehabilitation, and clinical research to provide a complete continuum of care and a comprehensive approach to understanding, treating and preventing stroke.

Each year, 700,000 Americans suffer a stroke. Vanderbilt is on the buckle of the Stroke Belt, a southeasterly swath of the U.S. where more strokes occur than anywhere else in the country. The Stroke Division was created to uniquely handle this disease, the 3rd leading cause of death in the nation and a leading factor in long-term disability.

In addition to maintaining a leadership role in Middle Tennessee, the Stroke Division at Vanderbilt participates regionally and nationally in the Stroke Belt Consortium, the Delta Stroke Task Force, the American Heart Association Stroke Team and in numerous National Institutes of Health-sponsored clinical drug studies.

Patients interested in joining stroke research studies by calling research coordinator Drew Anderson at (615) 936-3553. Patients who want to schedule non-study related appointments should call (615) 936-0060. Upon referral, patients will be asked to fax their records to (615) 936-1286.

Howard Kirshner, M.D., has been a Vanderbilt neurologist for more than 25 years, leads the division as Professor and Vice Chair of Neurology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. He also serves as Director of the Vanderbilt Stroke Center and Director of Stroke Rehabilitation at the Vanderbilt Stallworth Rehabilitation Hospital. He completed residency training in Neurology at the Massachusetts General Hospital and fellowship at the NIH. Dr. Kirshner is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard Medical School. His practice runs the gamut, from prevention to acute stroke care through rehabilitation. In addition, he leads several ongoing NIH or pharmaceutical company-sponsored clinical research studies. His areas of research interest include acute stroke treatment, stroke prevention, stroke rehabilitation, and neurobehavioral syndromes such as aphasia, apraxia, agnosia, dementia, and delirium. He has served on the editorial board of Neurology and is currently the Book Review Editor of the Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology. Dr. Kirshner’s CV can be found here.

Michael Froehler, M.D., Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology who specializes in interventional techniques for vascular diseases.

Lisa Hermann, M.D. is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology who treats adults with acute stroke and followup.

Lori Jordan, M.D., Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology who is a child neurologist and whose research focuses on predicting and improving outcome after hemorrhagic and ischemic stroke in children.

BethAnn McLaughlin, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology whose lab studies endogenous neuroprotective pathways in an effort to design safe and well tolerated therapeutics for the treatment of neurological injury. Dr. McLaughlin trained at the University of Pennsylvania at the Institute for Neurological Sciences and went on to a fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh in the Department of Neurobiology. She joined the faculty at Vanderbilt in 2003 and works with colleagues in neurosurgery, pharmacology and proteomics to develop profiles of stroke risk and damage using biomarkers and imaging. She has over 40 publications on stroke and cell injury, she currently serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Neuroscience, is a member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Leadership Council, the Society for Neuroscience and recipient of numerous NIH and private foundation grants for her work. Her research site can be found here and CV can be found here

Dr. Anne O'Duffy, joined the faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in 2001 as an Assistant Professor of Neurology. She received her medical degree from University College – Dublin in Ireland and trained as an intern in Internal Medicine at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. Dr. O’Duffy became a resident in Neurology at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine and later served as both an instructor and assistant clinical professor of Neurology at the University of California – San Francisco. In addition to her faculty position at VUMC, Dr. O'Duffy is currently an attending physician in Stroke and General Neurology at Vanderbilt. Board certified in Neurology, she specializes in general neurology, migraine headaches and women's issues.Dr. O’Duffy’s CV can be found here.

Dr. Derek Riebau is an Assistant Professor of Neurology and is board certified in the subspecialty of Vascular Neurology. He attended medical school at the University of Wisconsin – Madison before moving to Nashville, TN for a residency in Neurology at Vanderbilt University. Upon completion of residency, he did a fellowship in Vascular Neurology and then remained at Vanderbilt to pursue a career in medical education. In addition to his role as a faculty member in the Stroke division of the Neurology Department at Vanderbilt, he has an inpatient and outpatient stroke practice and serves as the Associate Director of the VMS II Brain & Behavior Course and Director of the VMS III Neurology Clerkship. His teaching has received the distinguished CANDLE and Shovel teaching awards and been recognized by the neurology residents as outstanding teacher of the year twice.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain becomes blocked by a clot (“ischemic stroke”) or bursts (“hemorrhagic stroke”). When an artery is obstructed, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs. As brain tissue becomes damaged, the parts of the body controlled by that brain region show symptoms of weakness, numbness, loss of vision, altered speech, etc. Strokes do not occur accidentally; risk factors, including smoking, diabetes and high blood pressure, contribute to the disorder. Educating the community about the disease is integral to comprehensive care. For instance, people must be made aware that high blood pressure increases the chance of stroke by five or six times, but controlling blood pressure reduces this risk substantially. If we controlled the “treatable” risk factors of stroke, the number of strokes occurring in the U.S. would be reduced by over half.

Even in the setting of an acute stroke, “clot-busting” medicines can greatly reduce the long-lasting effects of stroke, but patients must know the warning signs: dimmed vision in one eye, weakness on one side of the body, numbness, trouble speaking, or dizziness with other neurological symptoms. Patients must present to the Emergency Department within the first three hours after symptoms begin to benefit from this therapy.

The Stroke Division helps increase public awareness by participating regularly in community stroke screenings and by giving public talks throughout Middle Tennessee. For more information, consult the American Stroke Association at, or the Middle Tennessee chapter of the American Heart Association, or phone 615-340-4100.

Anyone suffering a stroke can be seen at Vanderbilt Emergency Department by a physician working directly in conjunction with a member of the Stroke Division, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for acute care. The members of the Stroke Division work closely with Emergency Medicine, especially Dr. Jason Thurman.

The comprehensive care goes beyond an ED visit; patients can be referred by their primary care physician or by another neurologist to the Stroke Division members at The Vanderbilt Clinic.

Vanderbilt University Hospital has neurological intensive care beds specifically for people who have suffered acute stroke. Each patient has a neurologist and/or neurosurgeon and a critical care specialist, neurologist or anesthesiologist. After acute care, the Stroke Team participates in the patient’s rehabilitation.

Additionally, Vanderbilt's recognition as the only Level 1 trauma center in Middle Tennessee means a LifeFlight helicopter and crews of highly skilled nurses are just minutes away from reaching patients and returning them to Vanderbilt quickly.

The Stroke Division actively participates in many national clinical trials and creates novel approaches to understanding the brain, bringing the latest advances in stroke medicine to Vanderbilt patients and helping forge the future of stroke care.