Research: Active Gaming Therapy Beneficial to Stroke Victim Recovery

According to new research, recovering stroke patients who use video games as a therapeutic exercise are more physically capable of movement compared to patients who use traditional motor therapy. The research comes from Dr. Rebbie Rand, an occupational therapist of Tel Aviv University's Stanley Steyer School of Health Professions at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine; and a team of researchers from Sheba Medical Center. The research was funded by a Marie Curie International Reintegration Grant.

For her research Rand organized two groups of 20 participants each; one group used traditional therapy, while the other used Xbox 360 Kinect, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo Wii games throughout sessions. After three months, both groups showed physical improvements, but the video game-playing group continued to improve grip strength for the next three months. Besides the physical benefits, researchers found that game players were more likely to continue with therapy because they found the experience enjoyable: 92 percent of participants playing video games said they enjoyed their therapeutic exercises, while only 72 percent of those given traditional therapeutic exercises said they enjoyed it.

Rand says that interactive video games require the user to move around continuously throughout play. Her study, which she recently presented at the 9th International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technologies, revealed that active game players perform twice as much arm movements during each play session as patients who use traditional therapy. She also points out that movement in these kinds of games is 'goal-directed,' compared to traditional therapy which aims to simply exercise bodily movements. Rand also suggested that playing games can have positive benefits on brain plasticity (mental changes that occur in patients who have suffered from brain damage caused by stroke), which are needed for the brain's recovery. Simply by moving deliberately to accomplish a specific goal results in certain cognitive benefits, she adds.

Source: Shalom Life

"Senior woman with her caregiver" © 2013 Alexander Raths |

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