Studies show patients often get better faster during game play

(COLUMBUS) – Often decried by parents as a waste of a child’s time, video games are increasingly finding favor with older generations and the medical providers who treat them.

In a unique collaboration, clinicians, computer scientists, an electrical engineer and a biomechanist have teamed up with physical therapists at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to create a video game that is showing promise in patients undergoing rehabilitation for stroke.

“We’ve seen clinically significant improvements in our patients’ motor function,” said Lynne Gauthier, PhD, a physical therapist who helped design the game. “Other games have been developed for rehab, but not in conjunction with clinicians,” she said.

This particular game makes use of what’s known as constraint-induced movement therapy. In the comfort of their own home, patients put a mitt on their healthy hand to prevent them from using it, and a glove with sensors on the other. Using only their affected hand, patients row an avatar down a river, picking up litter and fending off bats along the way.

“It’s amazing,” said Nancy Henckle, a stroke survivor. “I get so caught up in the game, I forget how hard I’m working,” she said.