Wednesday, April 13. 2011
While most people would balk at the idea that playing video games can actually be good for you, a new Canadian study discovered that the games may help stroke patients regain their arm strength and function.
The study, published in the journal Stroke, analyzed 12 separate studies involving a total of 195 stroke patients who played virtual-reality video games as part of their rehabilitation. In the five studies that compared video game playing with traditional stroke therapies - such as playing cards or the block-balancing game Jenga - playing video games had a 4.89 times greater chance of improving arm strength. The other seven studies, which were observational, found that playing video games helped patients improve their upper arm strength by 14.7 percent while motor function also increased by 20 percent.
Researchers said video gaming may help stroke patients' brain's create new nerve cell connections. Tasks that are challenging, repetitive, task-specific and novel, all of which scientists say are all involved in video games, have been proven to improve the brain's ability to remodel itself.
However, video games probably won't be covered by health insurance companies anytime soon - researchers say larger randomized trails are needed before any benefits can be confirmed.
The American Heart Association reports there are about 6,400,000 stroke survivors living in the U.S., many of who have experienced long-term disabilities as a result of their ailment.
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