Playing on a virtual reality gaming system may help stroke patients improve their motor function, according to a small study presented Thursday at a conference of the American Stroke Association.
"This is the first randomized clinical study showing that virtual reality using Wii gaming technology is feasible and safe and is potentially effective in enhancing motor function following a stroke," said Gustavo Saposnik, who led the study.
Twenty stroke survivors were randomly assigned to play either two Wii games - Wii tennis and Wii "Cooking Mama," in which players simulate cutting a potato, peeling an onion, slicing meat and shredding cheese - or to play cards or a game called Jenga, which involves stacking and balancing wooden blocks.
Both groups played eight hour-long sessions of Wii, or cards and blocks, over the period of two weeks. Participants had suffered a stroke around two months previous. No one in the Wii group suffered adverse effects in the study, while one person in the card or block-stacking group had nausea or dizziness during the study.