Playing video game helps stroke victims recover

10:00 AEST Sun May 20 2012
By Erin Van Der Meer, MSN NZ
Playing video game helps stroke victims recover.
Playing video game helps stroke victims recover.

An electronic console game that has been created to aid the rehabilitation of people recovering from strokes could be the solution to a shortage of physical therapists, the UK’s The Telegraph reported.

Researchers from Newcastle University worked with a game studio to come up with Circus Challenge, a video game that encourages patients to gradually regain the use of their arm or hand by spinning plates, taming lions or juggling.

Janet Eyre, professor of paediatric neuroscience at the university, said the game was invented to help fill the gap in the stroke patient to physical therapist ratio in the UK, and has seen successful results so far.

"The brain can re-learn control of the weak arm but this needs frequent therapy over many months and there are not enough therapists to provide this on a one-to-one basis” Professor Eyre said.

"People get engrossed in the competition and action of the circus characters and forget that the purpose of the game is for therapy."

Stroke victim Catherine Armstrong said playing Circus Challenge is much more motivating than doing exercises on her own.

"It’s really exciting because at the moment, I’m left with … me having to do the exercises, so to have something which is going to encourage me even more to make sure that my arm is moving correctly is really good."

Games to aid patients suffering from cerebral palsy, chronic lung disease, type-2 diabetes and dementia are also said to be in the works.

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