More Interpreters Needed to Properly Administer Stroke Scale

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Rapid and accurate diagnosis and treatment are crucial for minimizing damage and improving outcomes. One of the tools used in stroke diagnosis is the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS), which assesses the severity of stroke symptoms. The NIHSS is a standardized tool used by healthcare providers to determine the severity of a stroke and the appropriate treatment.

The Need for Interpreters in Stroke Assessment

Proper administration of the NIHSS requires skilled healthcare providers who can accurately interpret and score the various symptoms of stroke. Unfortunately, there is a shortage of trained interpreters available in many healthcare settings. This shortage is particularly acute in areas with high populations of non-English speakers.

The NIHSS contains several sections that require interpretation, such as language, vision, and motor function. To accurately score these sections, healthcare providers need to understand the patient’s response and be able to communicate with them effectively. This requires proficiency in the patient’s language, which is not always available.

Interpreters play a critical role in stroke assessment by providing accurate translation and interpretation services. They can help healthcare providers overcome language barriers, ensuring that patients receive appropriate and timely treatment. Interpreters can also help healthcare providers communicate more effectively with patients who have limited English proficiency, which can improve patient outcomes.

Addressing the Interpreter Shortage

To address the shortage of interpreters, healthcare providers and policymakers can take several steps. One solution is to provide training and support for healthcare providers who work with non-English-speaking patients. This training can include language classes and cultural sensitivity training.

Another solution is to hire more interpreters or partner with interpretation services. Healthcare providers can work with community-based organizations or language service providers to identify and hire qualified interpreters. They can also leverage technology, such as remote interpretation services, to expand the pool of available interpreters.

Finally, policymakers can support funding for interpreter services. This can include funding for training programs, hiring interpreters, and investing in technology that supports remote interpretation.

The Benefits of Interpreter Services

Investing in interpreter services has numerous benefits for both patients and healthcare providers. By providing accurate interpretation, interpreters can improve the quality of care and reduce the risk of medical errors. They can also help healthcare providers communicate more effectively with patients, which can increase patient satisfaction and improve patient outcomes.

Interpreters can also help reduce healthcare disparities by ensuring that non-English-speaking patients receive the same quality of care as English-speaking patients. This can help improve health outcomes for underserved populations and reduce healthcare costs associated with complications and longer hospital stays.


Stroke is a serious health condition that requires prompt and accurate diagnosis and treatment. The NIHSS is a crucial tool for assessing the severity of stroke symptoms, but proper administration requires skilled interpreters who can accurately interpret and score symptoms. To ensure that all patients receive the best possible care, healthcare providers and policymakers must address the shortage of interpreters and invest in interpreter services. By doing so, we can improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare disparities for all patients.

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