Hip Hop to Stroke Awareness
Beauty Shops Also Provide Captive Audience for Teaching Signs of Brain Attacks
Feb. 7, 2007 (San Francisco) -- What do hip hop and beauty salons have in
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
In separate research, beauticians increased their clients’ recognition of
stroke symptoms by teaching them about the disease while they had their hair
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
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
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.”