Australian Neuroscientist: Video Games Great for Stroke Rehab

August 12, 2011 -

Neuroscientist Stuart Smith of Neuroscience Research Australia in Sydney is using video games to make rehabilitation exercises for stroke patients less boring. Smith says that the biggest problem with rehabilitation exercises for stroke patients is that most participants find that they are about as exciting as watching paint dry. Many of Smith's stroke patients find the traditional exercises associated with rehabilitation repetitive and frustrating. Traditional rehab improves motor control and reduces sensory and intellectual impairment.

"This is especially the case with the young guys," says Smith. "It's difficult to even get them to turn up to the rehabilitation sessions sometimes. You can move a bag of sand across a desk thousands of times a day and see a very clear improvement, but no one's going to do that."

Smith sees that people would rather play video games, so he has come up with a novel approach, combining both. While Smith could use a VR system used by many in his field (San Francisco psychologist Ralph Lamson's VR immersion therapy technology is one that has proven effective), Smith prefers using games that are readily available on systems that support motion control, such as iPad and the Wii.

"We use a game called Fruit Ninja," Smith explains. "It's a fruit-slicing game you play on an iPad touchscreen." The game requires players to make frequent rapid precision wrist movements across the screen to slice the virtual fruit. The movements mimic exercises used in fine motor-skills therapy. Smith is also modifying certain games for the Nintendo Wii and other consoles to make them easier for stroke patients to play. The results are promising, according to Smith.

"We've found that most of our patients actually do more than what we ask of them," says fellow NeurA researcher Penelope McNulty, creator of a similar Wii-oriented rehabilitation program. "In traditional therapy, it's a struggle to get people to do the minimum amount. [This] is a lot of fun, so people enjoy doing it. Therefore, they do the hours they need to do to gain the benefit,"

McNulty adds that rewards and incentives built into the game, along with the element of competition are very "motivating" to many patients.

It also doesn't hurt that many of the games these neuroscientist use are familiar to many patients, which isn't the case with other rehabilitation methods. McNulty also notes they use these games and game systems "in a very structured, formalised way" and that patients are given "specific movement strategies to work on."

It's not yet clear if the video games serve the rehabilitation process better than more traditional programs, beyond the engagement and interest shown by patients.

"We'll be investigating that with functional magnetic resonance imaging tests soon," says McNulty.

"This is really just the beginning," Smith says. "We're going to see these things get better and better."

Source: The Australian


 
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E. Zachary KnightSleaker, How is that different from every other credit card company targeting high school and college students?07/30/2014 - 1:40pm
Sleaker@EZK - I think some people are concerned beacuse it's a predatory technique targetted toward younger people that don't understand on top of offering the worst interest rates of any retailer around.07/30/2014 - 11:33am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/30/europe-gets-long-detained-shin-megami-tensei-4-at-cut-price/ "Sorry you had to wait a year for SMT4, would a price cut make it sting less?"07/30/2014 - 10:29am
NeenekoI would hope not. Though it is not unheard of for store specific cards to be pretty good.07/30/2014 - 8:17am
E. Zachary KnightDoes anyone, or at least any intelligent person, expect a retail branded credit card to be anything close to resembling a "good deal" on interest rates?07/30/2014 - 7:13am
SleakerGamestop articles popping up everywhere about their ludicrous new Credit card offerings at a whopping pre-approval for 26.9% APR07/29/2014 - 10:19pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/07/podcasting-patent-troll-we-tried-to-drop-lawsuit-against-adam-carolla/ the podcasting patent troll scum is trying to turn tail and run.07/29/2014 - 9:50pm
MaskedPixelanteOf course it's improved. At launch, Origin was scanning your entire hard drive, but now it's just scanning your browsing history. If that's not an improvement, I dunno what is!07/29/2014 - 8:59pm
Papa Midnighthttp://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/video-games/columns/experienced-points/12029-Has-EAs-Origin-Service-Improved-Any-Over-the-Last-Two-Years07/29/2014 - 8:25pm
Sora-ChanSo it's just a matter of having better emulation software. If it can be done with a 3DS game, with all the memory and what not it takes up, it can be done with a GBA title through emulation.07/29/2014 - 7:30pm
Sora-ChanOther VC titles for the NES and Gameboy had the same setup where you couldn't access the homescreen without quitting out of the game til a later update when those games were released for the public outside of the founder program.07/29/2014 - 7:28pm
Sora-Chanthe 3DS can, and does, run GBA games, as seen by the founder gifts, which included a number of GBA titles. As for running GBA games and still having access to the home screen, I beleive it's more of the game emulation software needs to be updated.07/29/2014 - 7:27pm
Matthew Wilsonthe 3ds already swaps os's with the original ds. plus I dont think people expect miverse interaction when playing a gba game.07/29/2014 - 6:06pm
MaskedPixelanteBut that's not the issue, the 3DS is perfectly capable of emulating GBA games. The problem is that it doesn't have enough available system resources to run it alongside the 3DS OS, and thus it doesn't have access to stuff like Miiverse and save states.07/29/2014 - 5:45pm
Matthew WilsonI am well aware that it requires more power, but if a GBA emulator could run well on a original psp, than it should work on a 3ds.07/29/2014 - 5:36pm
ZenThe reason the SNES could run Gameboy, or the Gamecube could run GBA was because their adapters included all of the necessary hardware to do it in the respective add-ons. The systems were just conduits for control inputs and video/sound/power.07/29/2014 - 4:51pm
ZenMatthew: Emulation takes more power than people realize to run a game properly. You can make something run on less, but Nintendo...as slow as they are at releasing them..makes them run as close to 100% as possible. Each game has its own emulator for it.07/29/2014 - 4:47pm
Matthew Wilsonkind of hard to believe since the 3ds is atleast as powerful as the gamecube hardware wise.07/29/2014 - 4:27pm
MaskedPixelanteYes, the 3DS has enough power to run 16-bit emulators, but not at the same time it's running the 3DS systems themselves. You could run the games, but you wouldn't get save states or Miiverse.07/29/2014 - 4:04pm
InfophileRunning GBA on 3DS shouldn't be hard. The DS had flashcarts sold for it that added just enough power to emulate GBA and SNES games, so the 3DS should have more than enough natively.07/29/2014 - 3:37pm
 

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