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Stroke Hero video game teaches kids to recognize, respond to stroke

Published: 4:08 pm CDT, January 30, 2014

Children who played a 15-minute Stroke Hero video game were more likely to recognize a stroke and call 9-1-1, according to a new study.

Researchers evaluated a group of about 200 lower-income nine- and ten-year-olds from the Bronx, N.Y., before and after they played Stroke Hero to see if the children recognized someone having a stroke and knew to call 9-1-1. The children were encouraged to play the game at home. Then, seven weeks later they were retested.

Stroke Hero 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.

After playing Stroke Hero once, the children were 33 percent more likely to recognize stroke in a hypothetical scenario and call 9-1-1. They retained that knowledge after seven weeks. Ninety percent of the children reported they liked playing Stroke Hero, although only 26 percent played it at home, researchers said in the article, published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

“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,” said Olajide Williams, M.D., M.S., lead author and associate professor of neurology at Columbia University in New York.

The study suggests that using video games to teach children about stroke could have far-reaching implications.

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

Stroke Hero is available for free to those who register.

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