A study carried out by the American Heart Association has found that video games and virtual reality games can cause significant improvement in the arm strength of stroke victims.
Research as part of a report titled 'Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association' analyzed 195 patients aged between 26 and 88, all of whom had suffered strokes. The study aimed to test whether electronic games can effect the functionality in the upper arm.
Over seven observational and five randomized trials, the observational results found that an average 14.7 percent improvement in motor strength -- the ability to move the body -- came from playing virtual reality games.
For the randomized tests, patients were 4.89 times more likely to see improvement in their motor strength, compared to those who received standard therapy.
The study noted that most of the patients played 20 to 30 hours of gaming during a four to six week period. The VR technology used varied from traditional video game systems such as the PlayStation Eye Toy and the Nintendo Wii, to more specific technology like the CyberGlove and the Virtual Teacher.
Gustavo Saposnik, M.D., M.Sc., the lead author of the study, noted, "Virtual reality gaming is a promising and potentially useful alternative to enhance motor improvement after stroke. Virtual reality gaming therapy may provide an affordable, enjoyable and effective alternative to intensify treatment and promote motor recovery after stroke."
Saposnik said that virtual reality gaming works to the advantage of a stroke patient, as it provides real-time feedback for immediate positive reinforcement, and computer-assisted movement.