Hip hop can help kids, parents spot strokes and act fast: study

Kids are down with using hip hop to learn about stroke prevention — and so are their parents, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke.

In the large, five-year randomized health trial, researchers studied more than 3,000 fourth through 6th graders from 22 public schools in New York City, plus 1,144 of their parents.

The focus was schools with economically disadvantaged, minority children and their parents. Strokes kill four times more 35- to 54-year-old black Americans than white Americans.

“The lack of stroke recognition, especially among blacks, results in dangerous delays in treatment,” study author Olajide Williams, an associate professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center, New York Presbyterian Hospital, told the Daily News.

Model and Property Released (MR&PR)

“Time is brain” when it comes to treating a stroke victim.

(alvarez/Getty Images)

Led by Williams, subjects went through a multimedia stroke-awareness program that uses original hip-hop songs, comic books and cartoon-style videos.

Among the tutorials: the acronym F-A-S-T, which refers to stroke warning signs: Face dropping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1. That is turned into infectious rhythms and rhymes written by rapper Doug E. Fresh.

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

Dr. Olajide Williams is a hip hop fan whose research shows how music can teach kids and parents life-saving lessons.

Dr. Olajide Williams is a hip hop fan whose research shows how music can teach kids and parents life-saving lessons.

(Maiken Jacobs)

Before the program — called “Hip Hop Stroke” — 2% of kids had optimal stroke knowledge. That number rose to 57% after it. Three months later, 24% of children retained what they needed to know.

Adults also got smarter. Pre-intervention, 3% of parents could identify stroke symptoms. That rose to 20% after. Three months later, 17% retained the information.

When it comes to stroke and clot-busting treatment, “Time is brain,” said Williams, a rap fan known as the Hop Hop Doc. “Every minute a stroke continues 1.9 million brain cells die. The earlier the treatment, the better the outcome.”

“We’ve been conducting this study over the past five years,” Williams added. “My hope is the program, which is free, will be used around the country.”

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