Video games improve upper extremity motor skills for stroke patients

Video game study shows stroke
patients regain motor skills
and strength from playing

Stroke patients develop upper extremity motor skills from video games

Researchers say compared to standard therapy, stroke patients who play video games are five times more likely to regain upper body motor skills after a stoke.

According to Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, the lead author of the study and the director of the Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, virtual reality gaming shows promise as a therapy for stroke patients that is affordable and fun.
Saposnik says, "Recovery of motor skill depends on neurological recovery, adaptation, and learning new strategies. Virtual reality systems drive neuroplasticity and lead to benefits in motor function improvement after stroke."
The original study from Saposnik was published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, July 2010.

A new analysis from Saposnik looked 12 existing studies on the effect of electronic games on upper extremity strength and mobility, finding the repetitiveness and challenge of video games could surpass conventional therapy after a stroke that provides only "modest" recovery and delayed effects.

The study was conducted on patients with mild to moderate stroke. Further studies are needed to see if video games can improve motor function in other groups of patients. 

According to the authors, 55 to 75 percent of stroke survivors have impaired motor function in their arms. Virtual gaming could provide a fun, inexpensive and effective way to help stroke patients function better, improving quality of life.

Source: St. Michael's Hospital