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Stroke Health Center

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Hip Hop to Stroke Awareness

Beauty Shops Also Provide Captive Audience for Teaching Signs of Brain Attacks
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 7, 2007 (San Francisco) -- What do hip hop and beauty salons have in common?

Both offer captive audiences for teaching children the signs and symptoms of a stroke, researchers report.

In a study of about 400 kids who hip-hopped to stroke awareness, the proportion that could recognize two or more warning signs jumped from 28% to about 60%.

In separate research, beauticians increased their clients’ recognition of stroke symptoms by teaching them about the disease while they had their hair styled.

Both programs, presented here at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2007, targeted African-Americans, who are twice as likely to have a first stroke as whites.

Programs Create Stroke Heroes

In at least two cases, fast action by 10-year-old kids who had completed the rap program may have been lifesaving: Both called 9-1-1 after recognizing that an adult was experiencing symptoms of a stroke, says Olajide Williams, MD, a neurologist at Harlem Hospital Center who led the program.

“Some call them stroke heroes. I call them the first knights of the hip hop program,” he tells WebMD.

Williams says the hip hop project was aimed at “tough kids in tough schools” -- fourth- and six-graders, ages 9 to 11, in Harlem.

Interactive Rap Video Central to Program

Central to the three-day program: a live hip hop video performed by legendary rapper Doug E. Fresh.

“Fresh wrote an interactive stroke rap called 'Brain Attack',” Williams says. “After he shouted a line, the kids would scream it back.”

The tune incorporated the FAST acronym -- face, arm, speech, time -- for teaching stroke warning signs and a plan of action.

Weakness or numbness on one side of the face or in one arm, and slurred speech, are warning signs of a stroke. Time refers to need to call 9-1-1 immediately.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is compromised -- such as with a blood clot or bleeding in the brain. This leads to the death of brain cells and brain damage.

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in America and third leading cause of death.

Other components of the rap program for children included simplified brain maps to teach the function of the brain; a virtual reality video showing how a stroke occurs; and an animated video showing people in the throes of a stroke.

The youngsters also performed an interactive skit in which each was assigned to personify a stroke symptom, such as "Mr. Blindness" or "Mr. Garbled Speech," William says. “We had a lot of fun.”

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