Researchers have discovered that a musical movement that uses hip-hop music to educate economically-disadvantaged minority children and their parents about strokes has shown promising results in helping the increase of stroke awareness.

Via YouTube

“The lack of stroke recognition, especially among blacks, results in dangerous delays in treatment,” said Olajide Williams, M.D., M.S., study author and associate professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital. “Because of those delays, only a quarter of all stroke patients arrive at the hospital within the ideal time for clot-busting treatment.”

A simple 9-1-1 call can save someone’s life. Calling an ambulance immediately when stroke symptoms start could increase the rate of optimal stroke treatment by 24%. It is very important for people to start recognizing the symptoms and know what to do in this kind of situation. Strokes kill four times more 35- to 54-year-old black Americans than white Americans.

Sadly, a lot of stroke awareness campaigns have been limited by the high costs of advertising, lack of cultural tailoring and low penetration into ethnic minority populations. But not all of them — “Hip Hop Stroke”, a three-hour multimedia stroke awareness intervention that teaches children rap songs about strokes, has shown great success in stroke education.

Scientists studying more than 3,000 4th through 6th graders from 22 public schools in New York City and a group of 1,144 of their parents have discovered that this campaign increased optimal stroke knowledge from 2% of children before the intervention to 57% right after. Another encouraging finding was that three months after the campaign had ended, 24% of children remembered all they had learned.

“Hip Hop Stroke” uses original hip-hop songs, comic books, and cartoon-style videos to make the kids remember facts about strokes. One of the invented acronyms of the project was F-A-S-T, which refers to stroke warning signs: Face dropping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1. Famous rapper Doug E. Fresh lent a hand in the artistic process and composed music and lyrics for the campaign.

“Rhymes have been shown to have quantifiable educational value,” said Dr. Williams.

Parents also learned new things. Pre-intervention, only 3% of the adults could identify stroke symptoms. That figure rose to 20% after they watched the educational videos. Three months later, 17% retained the information.

Dr. Williams, also known as the Hip Hop Doc, said that time is of the essence when it comes to stroke and clot-busting treatment.

“Every minute a stroke continues 1.9 million brain cells die. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome,” he declared.

Williams has been conducting this study for over the past five years. He is delighted by the results and hopes that the free program will soon be used around the country.

“The program’s culturally-tailored multimedia presentation is particularly effective among minority youth or other groups among whom Hip Hop music is popular,” Williams said. “One unique aspect of the program is that the children who receive the program in school are used as ‘transmission vectors’ of stroke information to their parents and grandparents at home. Our trial showed that this is an effective strategy.”

The paper was published in the American Heart Association Journal Stroke.

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