Critique: Graphic Animation


A study showing the rising number of strokes among working age citizens in England came out in May 2015, as well as this related video by HealthSketch, a project by three junior doctors based in the UK done in their free time. In the “about” page on the website, they state:

We noticed in clinic consultations that patients often appreciate when a simple diagram is sketched out in front of them. The very process of seeing a drawing being sketched out seems to help in the understanding and retention of information. We have used this as our central concept to create animated explainer videos, embracing digital and social media as we create ‘patient information leaflets’ for the 21st century.

During this five minute video, the narrator talks through the basic causes, consequences and treatments of stroke, which a continuous series of explanatory drawings illustrates. The drawings are simple, but effective. Understanding this video does not require knowledge of many medical terms, and any that are mentioned are explained. And for a serious subject, a more playful–or rather friendly–approach is taken to address the topic. In contrast to a medical pamphlet or video of doctors talking about it and pointing at slides, this animation provides a level of curiosity needed to encourage learning.

Using an illustrative animation in this instance is highly effective, engaging and appropriate for the message. While it is not breaking news, this video can be shared with news pieces on stroke and health coverage to further educate the audience. The basic information in this piece will not change much with ongoing study, making it a reliable work to return to over time. To educate the public on stroke, something sharable and approachable is needed–and this video is both.

The visuals in this piece are cartoonish but accurate for the information presented. The image of the brain with sections colored in (above) illustrates a complex element of a stroke’s consequences with simple color coordination. The names of the sections of the brain and not important here, what happens to a person when they are damaged is the key point. In the screenshot below, a way that clots form is shown, with a zoomed-in element the viewer plays along with. While these drawings will never be found in a medical textbook, all elements of this animation are scientifically accurate for the purpose of educating a wider public.

I would like to see this video accompany additional written information online, but the mission of HealthSketch is to create explanatory videos. It is available both on youtube and HealthSketch’s website, clearly labeled and the second result on a Google video search of “what is a stroke?” Overall it is one of the more comprehensive, educational and visually approachable animations on the subject currently online.