No, pricking fingers won’t save stroke victim – get medical attention instead

Can you revive a stroke victim and prevent them getting brain damage just by pricking their fingers and ear lobe with a needle? 

No! But this health misinformation has been published on Facebook, and shared in Nigeria.

What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when a burst or blocked blood vessel interrupts the flow of blood to the brain. The brain’s supply of oxygen and nutrients is cut off, which damages the brain tissue.

“The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body,” says the World Health Organization.

“The effects of a stroke depend on which part of the brain is injured and how severely it is affected. A very severe stroke can cause sudden death.”

‘Sounds like voodoo’

If someone is having a stroke, the best thing to do is to get them to a hospital or a doctor as quickly as possible. Don’t waste time on this false “cure”.

Immediate treatment may minimise the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death,” says the American Stroke Association.

Dr Uduak Umana, secretary of the Neuroscience Society of Nigeria, said he had not come across any scientific evidence of the claim.

“I don’t understand how pricking a stroke victim’s fingers would prevent them from suffering brain damage,” he told Africa Check. “It sounds like voodoo to me.”

Three simple tests for a stroke

The smile test checks for one-sided facial weakness. Doctors say this a strong sign of a stroke. 

The second test is to ask the patient to close their eyes and raise their arms. Stroke patients usually can’t raise both arms to the same height – a sign of arm weakness. Lastly, ask the patient to repeat a simple sentence. This will check if their speech is slurred – another sign of a stroke. – Motunrayo Joel

For publishers: what to do if your post is rated false

A fact-checker has rated your Facebook or Instagram post as “false”. What should you do? First, don't delete!

Click on our guide for the steps you should follow.

Publishers guide

Africa Check teams up with Facebook

Africa Check is a partner in Facebook’s third-party fact-checking programme to help stop the spread of false information on social media.

The content we rate as “false” will be downgraded on Facebook and Instagram. This means fewer people will see it.

You can also help identify false information on Facebook. This guide explains how.

Fighting coronavirus misinformation

Africa Check is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers fighting misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic.

Learn more about the alliance here.

© Copyright Africa Check 2020. Read our republishing guidelines. You may reproduce this piece or content from it for the purpose of reporting and/or discussing news and current events. This is subject to: Crediting Africa Check in the byline, keeping all hyperlinks to the sources used and adding this sentence at the end of your publication: “This report was written by Africa Check, a non-partisan fact-checking organisation. View the original piece on their website", with a link back to this page.