Crisis Averted: Mom Suffers Stroke While Driving

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Published on July 01, 2020

Crisis Averted: Mom Suffers Stroke While Driving

Photo of woman who had a stroke while drivingPhoto of woman who had a stroke while drivingSuffering a stroke is scary enough, but to have it happen while driving your two daughters to school is inconceivable. Yet that’s exactly what happened to 44-year-old Alma Padilla one Friday morning in November 2018.

Thirteen-year-old helps avoid traffic collision

“I was finishing a short phone call, and lost my ability to speak,” Alma explained. “I went to disconnect the speaker phone, but my right arm wouldn’t move. Worse yet, my truck was approaching an intersection with a red light, but I couldn’t get my right leg to respond and step on the brake. I knew something was desperately wrong, but I didn’t know what.”

Fortunately, Alma’s 13-year-old daughter in the passenger seat recognized the signs of stroke and guided the truck to safety on the side of the road. She immediately called 911. First responders suspected Alma had a stroke so they transported her to PIH Health Whittier Hospital.

The stroke team jumps into action

When treating a stroke, every moment matters, and because PIH Health Whittier Hospital is a Comprehensive Stroke Center, Alma was in very good hands. The hospital’s expert stroke team worked closely with Los Angeles County Emergency Medical Services Agency to ensure the staff was ready to respond as soon as Alma arrived.

Once in the PIH Health Emergency Department, Glen Shook MD, an emergency medicine physician immediately diagnosed Alma with stroke and activated the hospital’s stroke system. Richard Rison MD, a neurologist coordinated her care by quickly admitting her and scheduling an endovascular procedure performed by Yong Park MD, an interventional radiologist.

“Advanced imaging systems in our neurointerventional radiology suite help us save time while preserving valuable brain tissue, helping to identify the exact nature of the stroke,” explained Dr. Shook. “Alma had an ischemic stroke that resulted in a blockage in the artery supply in the crucial area of the brain that controlled her speech, motor function and sensation on her right side. She received tissue plasminogen activator tPA (a clot busting medication) and a thrombectomy (the surgical removal of a blood clot) and two days later was released to go home. Alma needed no follow-up therapy and has made a full recovery.”

Alma said, “I couldn’t be more grateful for my care at PIH Health—everything was excellent. The doctors and nurses came in frequently to check on me and I was very happy with my care.”

Expertise makes a difference

If you or a loved one is experiencing stroke symptoms, you can count on PIH Health for the highest quality care. We’ve earned the Gold Seal of Approval from The Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Heart-Check mark for Advanced Certification, which recognizes the highest level of competence for the treatment of acute stroke events.

For more information about stroke care at PIH Health, visit

The information in Healthy Living Online is for educational purposes only.  It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.  The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation, or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan.