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Virtual Rehab: Video Games Offer Hope For Stroke Victims

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Who says video games are a waste of time? A small study released by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke showed that stroke victims regained some motor function by playing virtual reality video games.

Though the sampling size was a small cluster of younger than usual stroke-afflicted subjects with an average age 57, doctors believe the findings show some promise.

Patients played games where they could deep-sea dive with sharks, climb up and down stairs, or snow board down a mountain. Brain scans performed after the tasking showed a reorganization of brain function and patients demonstrated improved ability to climb steps and keep control of their weakened legs.

What was striking was that the patients were past the year mark after their strokes. Little improvement is expected past one year.

“This was a group of people that you would not expect to improve, and that’s what made it interesting that they did,” said Dr. Robert Felberg, director of the stroke program at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans.

Though it doesn’t appear that video game therapy has an advantage over other therapies, doctors say it may be a good way to keep patients engaged in therapy.

“People love to play games,” said study co-author Dr. Mark Hallett, chief of the human motor control section at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Virtual Rehab: Video Games Offer Hope For Stroke Victims
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