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15 minute video game teaches kids about stroke

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The Stroke Hero video game helps kids learn about stroke symptoms and response

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Improving actionable stroke knowledge of a witness or bystander, which in some cases are children, may improve response to an acute stroke event.

Dr. Olajide Williams, MD, MS, Chief of Staff of Neurology, Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology at Columbia University and lead author of study along with colleagues tested210 children aged 9 to 10 years, low-income children from the Bronx, New York, on whether they could identify stroke and knew to call 9-1-1 if they saw someone having a stroke.

Children then played a 15-minute exposure to a stroke education video game called Stroke Hero., conducted in the school computer laboratory and once again were tested.

After immediate post-test, children were given remote password-protected online video game access and encouraged children to play at their leisure from home. An unannounced delayed post-test occurred 7 weeks later.

Among the children, 210 completed pretest, 205 completed immediate post-test, and 198 completed delayed post-test.

One hundred fifty-six (74%) children had Internet access at home, and 41 (26%), mostly girls, played the video game remotely.

The results showed children were 33 percent more likely to recognize stroke from a hypothetical scenario and call 9-1-1 after they played the video game. They retained the knowledge when they were re-tested seven weeks later.

Children who continued to play the game remotely were 18 percent more likely to recognize the stroke symptom of sudden imbalance than were the children who played the video game only once.

Ninety percent of the children studied reported they liked playing Stroke Hero. While 67 percent said they would play it at home, only about 26 percent did. Researchers didn't examine why.

In their conclusion the researchers write” Stroke education video games may represent novel means for improving and sustaining actionable stroke knowledge of children.”

The Stroke Hero video game involves navigating a clot-busting spaceship within an artery, and shooting down blood clots with a clot-busting drug. When the supply of clot-busting drugs runs out, gamers must answer stroke awareness questions in order to refuel. The game is synced to a hip hop song.

According to Dr. Williams "We need to educate the public, including children, about stroke, because often it's the witness that makes that 9-1-1 call; not the stroke victim. Sometimes, these witnesses are young children.”

The study suggests that the novel approach of using video games to teach children about stroke could have far-reaching implications. However, the study was small and there was no comparison group, so the results should be viewed with caution, said Dr. Williams.

Dr. Williams commented "Video games are fun, widely available and accessible for most children.” "Empowering every potential witness with the knowledge and skills required to make that life-saving decision if they witness a stroke is critical."

Stroke Here is free to download through Hip Hop Public Health.

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