School-based instruction on strokes can save lives and help to prevent lasting disabilities

XXIII WCN 2017, Kyoto, Japan, 16-21 September 2017

In the treatment of strokes, every minute gained can save lives or reduce the extent of lasting damage. At the World Congress for Neurology in Kyoto, Japanese doctors presented an effective educational program for school children and their parents. It does not only heighten awareness of this life-threatening disease, but also helps to shorten the time before emergency services are contacted.

Kyoto, September 2017 – School-based education about strokes not only improves people’s understanding of this life-threatening disease but also ensures that stroke victims contact emergency services much earlier and arrive more quickly at the hospital for treatment. Japanese researchers came to this conclusion and shared the results of their study at the XXIII World Congress for Neurology. This major scientific event takes place in Kyoto from 16 to 21 September 2017.

Strokes are responsible world-wide for more than one in ten deaths and the most frequent cause of lasting and in many cases severe disabilities. The degree of severity and reversibility depends heavily on how much time passes between the occurrence of the first symptoms and the start of treatment. That is the reason why clinics and especially specialized stroke units throughout the world are constantly trying to reduce the “door-to-needle time”, i.e. the time between arrival of the patient in the hospital and the start of treatment. 

A scientific team of the National Cerebral and Cardiovascular Centers in Suita, Japan, wanted to find out how valuable minutes could be gained during the period prior to arrival at the emergency ward. Study author Dr Chiaki Yokota explains: “In stroke treatment, literally every minute gained improves the outcome. Unfortunately, many stroke victims or their families are not capable of recognizing the symptoms of a stroke. They therefore hesitate in many cases to call for medical help.” 

In order to fill these knowledge gaps, emergency medical technicians from the emergency ward set off on a year-long lecture tour of eleven primary schools in Akashi, a city with a population of about 300,000. The nine and ten-year-old pupils received age-appropriate instruction on essential stroke facts as well as information material they discussed with their parents at home. 

To check the effectiveness of the information campaign, children and parents had to fill out a stroke questionnaire beforehand and then repeat this test again three months after the instruction. In addition, the scientists analyzed transport reports from the local emergency services six months before and six months after the intervention. The results clearly showed that efforts had been worthwhile. Not only did the participants do much better on the knowledge test three months after the information campaign – the call-to-door time was also reduced significantly from 32 to 29 minutes. Dr Yokota finally sums up: “This type of information dissemination does a lot to raise awareness about strokes on the part of both children and their parents. As final result the stroke victims come to the hospital much earlier and thereby greatly improve their chances of surviving this event without serious and lasting damage.”

Source: WCN 2017 Abstract Yokota, Increasing Stroke Awareness In Schoolchildren And Their Parents And Improving Call-To-Door Time By School-Based Intervention By Emergency Medical Technicians: The Akashi Project

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