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Wii Games Speed Stroke Rehab

Active Video Games Help Stroke Survivors Regain Arm Strength in Study

Stroke Rehab With Wii Games continued...

The patients could use a Velcro strap to attach the controller to their hand if necessary.

The others played recreational card games or Jenga, a block stacking and balancing game.

Both groups engaged in eight doctor-supervised sessions, about an hour long, over a two-week period. "During each session, they'd engage in one game for 30 minutes, then the other for the next 30 minutes," Saposnik says.

The findings were presented here at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2010.

Improved Speed and Strength

None of the participants experienced any serious side effects from the games. Two patients in the recreational therapy group and three patients in the Wii group reported being unusually tired after the sessions.

When evaluated after the two-week course of therapy and again a month later, people in the Wii group could reach out and grab an object such as a can of soda about seven seconds more quickly than those who played recreational games, Saposnik says.

"That may not seem like much, but if you imagine every task you do being seven seconds longer than usual, you'll see how quickly it adds up over the course of a day," he says.

People in the video game group also had a stronger grip than those in the recreational game group, he says. "They were faster and stronger," Saposnik says.

Duncan tells WebMD that the reason video games enhance motor function so much is that they are "highly repetitive and task-specific. Doing the same, precise thing over and over activates brain cells. The brain rewires and existing connections work better," she says.

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