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Stroke-Focused Hip Hop Could Help Save Lives

Hip-hop music is being used to teach school children the symptoms of stroke an how to quickly react to them—this can be extremely useful in saving lives and preventing disabilities. The study involved 3,070 minority children from New York City in fourth, fifth and sixth grade from 22 schools that took part in Hip Hop Stroke, a three-hour multimedia intervention on strokes that encourage them to share what they learn with their parents and other adults.

The participants watched animated cartoons hip-hop music videos, played video games and read comic books on stroke education using Hip Hop Stroke.

“If we can get fourth-graders to learn the symptoms and act on them, then we can get anybody to do the same thing,” researcher and chief of staff of neurology at Columbia University, Dr. Olajide Williams, said in a press release.

Williams is also the founder and president of the nonprofit Hip Hop Public Health, which uses hip-hop to call attention to stroke as well as other health issues.

In the hip-hop presentation, participants are taught to recognize symptoms such as face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulties and emphasize the importance of calling 911.

The study compared the stroke knowledge and preparedness among program participants with those not in the program. Directly following the program, 57 percent of participants had perfect scores in comparison to only 1 percent with perfect scores of those that did not receive the education.

Four of these children were still “optimally prepared” to recognize symptoms and were quick to call 911 for real-life stroke situations three months after the program concluded.

The parents of the kids who went through the program became more prepared to recognize these symptoms as well—parents reportedly had 3 percent proficiency before the program, and increased to 20 percent immediately after.

“We need to be more creative. We need innovative interventions that leverage all age groups,” said Williams. “Most Americans get to the hospital too late for treatments that can potentially save your loved one from a life of disability. We have medications that can mitigate these effects, and yet we’re only treating 7 percent of these patients. That’s a devastating statistic.”


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