A Moment of Science

Hip Hop Stroke

Stroke is the number one cause of adult disability, and treatment is only effective if the patient gets to the hospital within three hours.

Song and dance demonstration

Photo: Paul Sayer (flickr)

People demonstrating the "FAST" song of the Hip Hop Stroke program

Stroke is the number one cause of adult disability.  But it doesn’t have to be that way.  In fact, if someone having a stroke gets to the hospital in time, drugs used to break up the blood clot in the brain that’s causing the stroke can prevent much of the damage.

But the treatment is only effective if the patient gets to the hospital within three hours after the stroke begins.  And the problem is that only three percent of stroke victims get treatment within that short window.  Why?  Because most people aren’t familiar with the telltale signs of stroke.  Even people having a stroke don’t always recognize it as such.

So, determined to improve the number of stroke victims who get to the hospital in time, the National Stroke Association came up with a plan.  The program is called Hip Hop Stroke, and it uses rap music to teach school kids to recognize stroke symptoms.  One of the raps is about “FAST,” a mnemonic for Face, Arm, Speech and Time.  When a stroke hits, symptoms include droopiness in the face, weakness in the arm, and slurred speech.  Recognizing these symptoms in time is crucial for getting a stroke victim to the hospital as quickly as possible.

Does Hip Hop Stroke work?  According to one study measuring the program’s effectiveness, the answer is yes.  Researchers tested more than five-hundred school kids in New York City who participated in the three one-hour sessions.  They found that kids exposed to Hip Hop Stroke retain the knowledge for at least three months.  The researchers believe that over time, Hip Hop Stroke could help many more stroke victims get the help they need, on time.

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