According to recent figures from the NHS, over 152,000 people in the UK have a stroke each year. The road to recovery is often a long and painful one, but new technology may make the journey easier.
Video gaming, using Xbox’s Kinect accessory, can aid in improving a patient’s muscles, which might enable them to eventually do physical tasks once more.
Researchers at the Wexner Medical Center in Ohio, USA, have created a game for the system called Canyon Adventure, which lets users paddle a canoe along a virtual river. A special glove is put on the hand affected by the stroke to let them play, while the healthy hand is restrained. The exercise gives patients use of the affected hand after a period of time playing the game, giving them the freedom to do tasks they enjoyed previously.
Researcher Dr Lynne Gauthier said: “This really promotes the person to use their affected side for all their daily activities. So it really can be conceptualized as ‘boot camp’ for the affected arm.”
Another American company, Recovr LLC, has created a similar game, Duck Duck Punch, to help stroke survivors regain the strength in their upper arm.
Video game consoles such as the Wii have been used in the NHS for several years, giving patients the chance to not only have fun but improve their wellbeing as well. The Xbox’s Kinect, however, has improved motion tracking abilities for more accurate results.