Using Gaming to Help Stroke Recovery
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 795,000 people in the United States experience a stroke every year. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke states that there are about 4 million people living in the United States living with the effects of a stroke, which can include problems such as weakness or paralysis on one side of the body, trouble using language both verbally and written, and memory issues among other complications. Recovery takes a great amount of skill, time and support. In a recent study published in Simulation and Gaming entitled “Stroke Patient Rehabilitation: A Pilot Study of an Android-Based Game,” researchers designed and tested a tablet game aimed at helping recent stroke patients recover damaged motor skills.
Background Cerebral vascular accidents (strokes) are the primary cause of disability worldwide and the second leading cause of death both in the Philippines and internationally. In recent years, a number of computer-based applications have been developed to assist in the stroke recovery process.
Method FINDEX was designed and developed in the Philippines. The game contains assessment and monitoring support for tracking the patient’s progress in terms of fine finger dexterity, for example, finger control, isolation and coordination, and range of motions. The baselines for data comparison and analysis were gathered through an initial test with subjects with normal hand function. Three stroke survivors then participated in a pilot study, using the game for a total of nine testing sessions.
Results Objective measures showed that patients’ dexterity did in fact improve, although it is not possible to draw strong conclusions because of the small sample size. In subsequent interviews, patients indicated that they believed that the games helped in their recovery and said that they preferred playing with the game over performing the standard therapeutic activities.
Conclusion The development of this game and the preliminary findings from the pilot study suggest that games may indeed be effective instruments for therapy.
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