Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Playing Video Game Could Help Stroke Patients’ Recovery!

A person is said to have stroke when blood supply to part of his or her brain is disrupted causing the brain cells to die. Advanced age, hypertension (high blood pressure), previous stroke, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking are some of the risk factors for stroke.

Stroke is a serious medical condition as it could cause permanent neurological damage, complications, and even death. Survived stroke patients might not be able to move one or more limbs on one side of the body, understand or formulate speech, or see one side of the visual field. Treatment often involves health professionals like speech and language, physical and occupational therapy.

Canadian researchers from Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at St Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Canada reported on February 25, 2010 at a conference of the American Stroke Association that playing on a virtual reality gaming system like Wii might help stroke patients improve their motor function. Wii is nothing but a home video game console released by Nintendo on November 19, 2006.

In the first randomized clinical study, 20 stroke patients, who had suffered stroke around 2 months ago, were randomly assigned either to play 2 Wii games (Wii Tennis and Wii Cooking Mama) or to play cards or a game called Jenga. Wii Cooking Mama requires players stimulate cutting a potato, peeling an onion, slicing meat and shredding cheese, while Jenga involves stacking and balancing wooden blocks.

Both groups played 8 hour-long sessions of Wii or cards and blocks, over a period of 2 weeks. Not a single patient in the Wii group suffered any adverse effects in the study but 1 person in the card or block-stacking group had nausea or dizziness during the study.

The study focused on getting the patients to move their impaired arms to help small- and large-muscle motor function. Researchers concluded that the group using Wii showed significant motor improvement in speed and extend of recovery.

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