Marlene Busko

November 12, 2017

ANAHEIM, CA — A new study in an elementary school shows that most 12-year-olds in grade 6 can learn and successfully perform hands-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) after one training session that used an American Heart Association (AHA) CPR in Schools Training Kit[1].

Almost all students in the study remembered to phone 911. However, only the subgroup of children who also played a video game designed to teach correct chest compressions, and another subgroup who listened to "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees, a song with the correct CPR tempo, were able to successfully perform chest compressions with an adequate rhythm, of which three-quarters were deep enough.

Senior author Dr Mimi Biswas (University of California Riverside School of Medicine and Riverside Community Hospital) will present the study by lead author Dr Bethlehem Zeleke (Riverside Community Hospital) and colleagues November 13, 2017 here at the American Heart Association (AHA) 2017 Scientific Sessions.

Currently, 37 states and Washington, DC, have passed laws that require students receive hands-on, guideline-based CPR training by grade 12 to graduate from high school, Biswas told | Medscape Cardiology.

The current study was her son's grade 6 school science project. "He wanted to make a video game to teach CPR," she explained. Eashan Biswas, now in grade 7, is a coauthor of the poster.

The study showed that "12-year-olds can easily learn the basic concepts of calling for help and starting hands-only CPR, and they can physically perform effective CPR," said Dr Biswas.

The children were very receptive to learning CPR and able to master the skill. Teaching more children CPR and reinforcing these skills "will lead to many lives saved," according to Biswas.

The CPR In Schools Training Kit, which costs $649 and can be used to train hundreds of people, "is an excellent resource for schools to use to teach CPR," pediatric cardiologist Dr Dianne Atkins (University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, Iowa City), who was not involved in the study, told | Medscape Cardiology in an email. "It is inexpensive given the number of students it can be used to train."

Other studies have shown that junior high school students can learn CPR, "so I was not surprised to see that the sixth-graders were successfully trained," said Atkins.

The study highlights "how well the students performed calling 911 after a short training," and "how the performance of CPR was better with tempo guiding." 

Training Plus a Video Game or Tune

The researchers studied 160 children in grade 6 at a single school who were a mean age of 12 years.

All children watched the video that is part of the training kit, which also includes 10 inflatable mannequins. 

A third of the group (51 children) only watched the video (the control group). Another 53 children also listened to music with the correct CPR tempo. The remaining 56 children played a game designed to reinforce the CPR training that was created by Eashan using Scratch coding, a visual programming language.

The goal was for the children to perform 100 to 120 compressions per minute on an adult CPR mannequin in the correct position and at a depth of 2 inches (compressions deep enough triggered a click).  

After the training, each child was individually tested on the mannequin.

In the control group, 98% of children called 911 and 98% performed CPR in the correct location. However, they only attained a mean 88 compressions per minute, of which 72 were deep enough.

In the group that listened to music, 93% called 911 and 85% performed CPR in the correct location. However, children in this group did a mean 104 compressions per minute, of which 74 were deep enough.

In the group that played the video game, 87% called 911 and 95% performed CPR in the correct location. These children did a mean 102 compressions per minute, of which 78 were deep enough.

The researchers plan to expand the CPR training so that residents in internal medicine will train all sixth-graders in the school district, and Biswas said, their hope is that early CPR training "be done throughout the state and country."

The AHA donated the CPR kits to the school. The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.

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