Wii video games may help stroke patients improve motor function

Feb 25, 2010

Virtual reality game technology using Wii may help recovering stroke patients improve their motor function, according to research presented as a late breaking poster at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2010.

The study found the virtual reality gaming system was safe and feasible strategy to improve motor function after .

"This is the first randomized clinical study showing that virtual reality using gaming technology is feasible and safe and is potentially effective in enhancing motor function following a stroke, but our study results need to be confirmed in a major clinical trial," said Gustavo Saposnik, M.D., M.Sc., director of the Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at the Li Ka Shing Institute, St. Michael's Hospital and lead investigator of the study carried out at theToronto Institute at the University of Toronto, Canada.

The pilot study focused on movements with survivors' impaired arms to help both fine (small muscle) and gross (large muscle) motor function.

Twenty survivors (average age 61) of mild to moderate ischemic or hemorrhagic strokes were randomized to playing recreational games (cards or Jenga, a block stacking and balancing game) or Wii tennis and Wii Cooking Mama, which uses movements that simulate cutting a potato, peeling an onion, slicing meat and shredding cheese.

Both groups received an intensive program of eight sessions, about 60 minutes each over two weeks, initiated about two months following a stroke.

The study found no adverse effects in the Wii group, reflecting safety. There was only one reported side effect in the recreational therapy group: nausea or dizziness. The Wii group used the technology for about 364 minutes in total session time, reflecting its feasibility. The recreational therapy group's total time was 388 minutes.

"The beauty of virtual reality is that it applies the concept of repetitive tasks, high-intensity tasks and task-specific activities, that activates special neurons (called 'mirror neuron system') involved in mechanisms of cortical reorganization (brain plasticity)," Saposnik said. "Effective rehabilitation calls for applying these principles."

Researchers found significant motor improvement in speed and extent of recovery with the Wii technology.

"Basically, we found that patients in the Wii group achieved a better , both fine and gross, manifested by improvement in speed and grip strength," Saposnik said. "But it is too early to recommend this approach generally. A larger, randomized study is needed and is underway."

Wii is a video gaming system using wireless controllers that interact with the user. A motion detection system allows patients their actions on a television screen with nearly real time sensory feedback.

Explore further: Know the brain, and its axons, by the clothes they wear

Related Stories

'Wii-habilitation': Using video games to heal burns

Sep 19, 2008

(PhysOrg.com) -- Video games, often regarded as mindless entertainment for lethargic children and teens, are proving to be an effective new tool to motivate patients to perform rehabilitation exercises.

Wii video game carries doctor's warning

Jun 08, 2007

Too much time playing the Nintendo Wii video game system can give players an acute form of tennis elbow, a doctor in Barcelona, Spain, warns.

Nintendo's 'Revolution' becomes 'Wii'

Apr 27, 2006

Japan's Nintendo announced that its new gaming console -- known during development as "Revolution" -- will be called "Wii" and will be unveiled next month. ...

Recommended for you

Know the brain, and its axons, by the clothes they wear

Apr 18, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—It is widely know that the grey matter of the brain is grey because it is dense with cell bodies and capillaries. The white matter is almost entirely composed of lipid-based myelin, but ...

Turning off depression in the brain

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Rapid whole-brain imaging with single cell resolution

Apr 17, 2014

A major challenge of systems biology is understanding how phenomena at the cellular scale correlate with activity at the organism level. A concerted effort has been made especially in the brain, as scientists are aiming to ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.