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This 3D Video Game Helps Stroke Victims To Recover

Scientists have developed a therapeutic at-home 3D gaming programme to help stroke patients overcome motor weakness, which affects 80% of patients.

Hemiparesis is defined as weakness of or the inability to move one side of the body, and can be debilitating as it impacts everyday functions such as eating, dressing or grabbing objects, said researchers at the Ohio State University (OSU) Wexner Medical Center. Constraint-induced movement therapy (CI therapy) is an intense treatment recommended for stroke survivors, and improves motor function, as well as the use of impaired upper extremities. Less than 1% of those affected by hemiparesis receive the beneficial therapy.

Lack of access, transportation and cost are contributing barriers to receiving CI therapy. To address this, we made a gaming system to deliver CI therapy to patients at home, said Lynne Gauthier of Ohio State University's College of Medicine. 

Gauthier's, principal investigator of the study and a neuroscientist, is collaborating with a multi-disciplinary team comprised of clinicians, computer scientists, an electrical engineer and a biomechanist team created a video game using ingredients of CI therapy.

The patient-gamer will be immersed in a river canyon environment, where he or she will receive high-repetition motor practice targeting the affected hand and arm. The taks will include rowing down a river and fishing.pti

Throughout the intensive training schedule, the participant wears a padded mitt on the less affected hand for 10 hours daily, to promote the use of the more affected hand.

To ensure that motor gains made through the game carry over to daily life, the game encourages participants to reflect on their daily use of the weaker arm and engages the gamer in additional problem-solving ways of using the weaker arm for daily activities.

"This novel model of therapy has shown positive results for individuals who have played the game. Gains in motor speed, as measured by the Wolf Motor Function Test, rival those made through traditional CI therapy," said Gauthier.

"It provides intense high quality motor practice for patients, in their own homes. Patients have reported they have more motivation, time goes by quicker and the challenges are exciting and not so tedious," Gauthier added.
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