Slurred speech, a drooping face, weak arms—all are among the first signs of stroke. “There’s a lot we can do to lessen the impact of stroke on patients’ long-term health, if they get to us fast enough,” says Dr. Gregory Cuculino, chairman of the departments of emergency medicine at Taylor Hospital and Delaware County Memorial Hospital.
As co-director of the committee for Taylor’s certified stroke center, Cuculino realized that many patients delayed seeking care because they failed to recognize the signs of stroke. To remedy that, he created an awareness campaign centered on a poster contest with Delaware County school children. The hope was that they’d pass the information to their grandparents and even spot the symptoms themselves.
The first year, 50 students entered; the next year, 200 participated—and the numbers continue to rise. Meanwhile, Cuculino has repurposed their drawings into calendars distributed at community fairs.
It was enough to inspire high school students to create a video on stroke awareness, which Crozer-Chester Medical Center posted on its website. And in 2011, Taylor received an award from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association for two years of early-intervention stroke care.
“I had a stroke patient who knew the signs because her daughter won the contest the first year we did it,” says Cuculino. “Today, she’s fine.”