How Xbox and Nintendo Wii are helping patients regain movement and mobility

By Uwear

A recent study has revealed playing computer games may help patients recover quicker from strokes, amputations, brain injuries and other conditions.

Patients in Sydney and Adelaide hospitals are playing video games on Xbox, Nintendo Wii and other designed specifically for rehabilitation.

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A new technology developed in the Netherlands called ‘FysioGaming’ provides real-time information to physiotherapitsts, with feedback detailing how patients are performing in target activities. The movement-based computer programs help stroke survivors re-master basic skills and reward them with on-screen prizes to motivate them even more to move while their progress is tracked.

The physiotherapy facility at Sydney’s Bankstown Hospital is home to eight devices that are part of the three-year $1.3 million project funded by the National Health and Medical Research Council.

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A stepping tile system was developed specifically for this research and was made with a 3D printer, which allows the flexibility to customize the steps for each patient. Therapists assist patients through several specific exercises on the stepping tile system, and receive feedback on how they performed in weight distribution, balance and strength.

Leading the study is Cathie Sherrington, principal research fellow at the George Institute for Global Health.

“There’s quite a lot of diversity in the range of problems that people experience after a stroke or brain injury,” said Sherrington. “So it’s likely that different technologies will be more suited to different individuals.”

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Once patients learn how to use the game therapy at the hospital, they are encouraged to continue making strides toward recovery in their own home. Because of this, researchers are working on ways to make the gaming technology accessible on smartphones and other mobile devices.

Researchers will follow their patients for six month to evaluate whether or not the technology has helped increase their independence.

Source: Australia News Network

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