Video Game Teaches Kids to Call 911 If You’re Having a Stroke

The grandchildren could save your life if you let them play a video game called “The Stroke Hero” that teaches them to recognize stroke symptoms and quickly call 911, according to an article published in in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.

A release from the association explains that researchers tested 210 9- and 10-year-old, low-income children from the Bronx, New York, on whether they could identify stroke and knew to call 911 if they saw someone having a stroke. Researchers tested the children again after they played the  stroke education video game for 15 minutes. Finally, the team gave the children remote access to the video game and encouraged them to play at home, and tested 198 of the children again seven weeks later.

Here are the findings:

*The children were 33 percent more likely to recognize stroke from a hypothetical scenario and call 911 after they played the video game. They retained the knowledge when they were tested again seven weeks later.

*Children who continued to play the game remotely were 18 percent more likely to recognize the stroke symptom of sudden imbalance than were the children who played the video game only once.

*Ninety percent of the children studied reported they liked playing Stroke Hero. While 67 percent said they would play it at home, only about 26 percent did. Researchers didn’t examine why.

The release quotes lead author Olajide Williams, M.D., M.S., associate professor of neurology at Columbia University in New York City, as saying, “We need to educate the public, including children, about stroke, because often it’s the witness that makes that 911 call; not the stroke victim. Sometimes, these witnesses are young children.” said, lead author and.

The Stroke Hero video game 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.

The study suggests that the novel approach of using video games to teach children about stroke could have far-reaching implications. However, the study was small and there was no comparison group, so the results should be viewed with caution, Williams said.

“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.”

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