July 21st, 2019

To Your Health: Gaming your way to recovery

By GILLIAN SLADE on June 24, 2019.

gslade@medicinehatnews.com@MHNGillianSlade

Here’s a way video games are being used to help stroke patients recover and if you have Parkinson’s disease you may want to put boxing gloves on.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the U.K. have collaborated with Evolv to address what is called “hemispatial neglect” experienced by some stroke patients.

This condition leaves people unaware of things located on one side of their body, usually the same side that they lost their movement. Even operating a wheelchair is challenging as they have a tendency to bump into things.

It greatly affects their ability to live independently and the recovery rate has been poor.

A new gaming platform, designed to improve the lives of stroke patients with complex neurological syndromes, will be unveiled at Rehab Week in Toronto today (Monday) to coincide with the start of Rehab Week in Toronto.

The researchers estimate these symptoms are experienced by between 30 and 50 per cent of those who have had a stroke.

Currently rehabilitation includes visual and physical coordination tasks generally using pen and paper.

Lead researcher Dr Stephanie Rossit, from UEA’s school of psychology, said sticking with an exercise is the key to success and if it is a fun process there is more likelihood patients will do it frequently.

Here’s how the video game works. The patient sees a series of moving apples, some of which have been partially eaten, on the screen. The patient attempts as quickly as possible to determine how many whole apples there are.

Those with hemispatial neglect will generally only see a small number on one side of the screen. The number of apples can be increased on the screen to create a greater challenge. Scoring can be a big motivator for the patient to engage.

Not only will patients play the game during therapy but also in their own home, enhancing their ability to recover.

“This technology has the potential to improve both independence and quality of life of stroke survivors,” said Rossit. “This innovative therapy could also improve long-term care after stroke by providing a low-cost enjoyable therapy that can be self-administered anywhere and anytime …..”

And now for something completely different….

Some people with Parkinson’s are fighting back by boxing. If those who feel they have no control over the disease, pounding their boxing gloved hands against a heavy bag can feel empowering. It can help eye-hand coordination, improve balance and physical strength.

It is not only for men – women are doing it too.

I am providing a link to a great story by an Edmonton Journal writer, about men and women enjoying the benefits of boxing.

Here’s to great strides in improving life for those who have had a stroke or are dealing with the symptoms of Parkinson’s and here’s To Your Health.

To Your Health is a weekly column by Gillian Slade, health reporter for the News, bringing you news on health issues and research from around the world. You can reach her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or 403-528-8635.

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