Video Game Teaches Kids How to Spot a Stroke

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By Robert Preidt, HealthDay Reporter

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THURSDAY, Jan. 30, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Playing a 15-minute stroke-education video game appeared to improve children's understanding of stroke symptoms and what to do if someone is having a stroke, a new study suggests.

The research included 210 low-income children, aged 9 and 10, from New York City who were tested on whether they could identify stroke symptoms and if they knew to call 911 if they saw a person suffering a stroke.

They were tested again immediately after playing a stroke-education game called Stroke Hero, and again seven weeks later after being given remote access to the game and encouraged to play at home.

After playing the game, the children were 33 percent more likely to recognize a stroke and know to call 911 in case of a stroke. They still had this knowledge when they were tested again seven weeks later, the study found.

Compared to those who played the game just once, children who continued to play the game at home were 18 percent more likely to recognize the stroke symptom of sudden imbalance, according to the study, which was published recently in the journal Stroke.

Ninety percent of the children said they liked playing the game. But although 67 percent said they would play it at home, only 26 percent did.

"We need to educate the public, including children, about stroke," study author Dr. Olajide Williams, an associate professor of neurology at Columbia University, said in a journal news release. "Often it's the witness that makes that 911 call, not the stroke victim. Sometimes these witnesses are young children."

In the Stroke Hero game, players pilot a clot-busting spaceship through an artery and blast blood clots with a clot-busting drug. When the supply of the drug is empty, gamers have to answer questions about stroke awareness to refill the medicine.

"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 lifesaving decision if they witness a stroke is critical."

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke.

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