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College studies using games to treat strokes

Words by Smiley Team

Instead of going through all the grief of dealing with rehab the traditional way, stroke patients may soon be able to work through rehab in the comfort of their own homes while playing video games. 

In lieu of mobility exercises and clinics, patients will instead be paddling through rapids, scooping trash out of the river, and swatting away spider webs in a cave. Called “Recovery Rapids” the game uses a Microsoft Kinect sensor to help them improve arm, hand, and torso movement they have lost in the stroke. The sensor picks up movement and physicians can observe progress remotely. 

A group of researchers started the project in 2018 and the researchers found that game-based therapy led to recovery similar to a common form of in-person therapy, known as constraint-induced therapy, while only requiring one-fifth of the therapist’s hours.

“We showed that through telehealth that people using the game could improve movement in their arm,” Rachel Proffitt, assistant professor in the MU School of Health Professions, tells Smiley News.

Supporting 800,000 Americans a year

According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 800,000 Americans a year have a stroke, and it’s beginning to affect younger and younger people. Two-thirds of stroke survivors report they cannot use their affected limbs to do normal daily activities. Access to care that fits into a person’s life is becoming more essential. 

Rachel says they are currently working on more supplementary stoke rehab research, this being in the kitchen. 

The plan is to use an “ambient sensor” provided by Foresite Healthcare to observe arm and torso movement in people’s homes. The hope of the project is to offer more insight to physicians involving patients’ rehab.

“We see someone maybe once or twice a week,” she says. “We don’t know what individuals do in their lives outside a clinic the other six days and 23 hours.”

The new project will act to supplement the “Recovery Rapids” game and any other stroke recovery involved. 

Inspired to act?

DONATE: You can donate to the American Stroke Association to support those in need

VOLUNTEER: The ASA is looking for volunteers – get involved

This article aligns with the following UN SDGs

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