Wii-hab may enhance treatment for Parkinson's disease
http://img.qj.net/uploads/articles_m...wth.png?439367 Whoever thought there could be such a thing as Wii-habilitation? No,we're not talking about repairing a damaged Wii. According to the study conducted by Dr. Ben Herz, program director and assistant professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Occupational Therapy, the Nintendo Wii may aid in the treatment of Parkinson's disease, a degenerative condition that impairs the body's motor skills.
"The Wii allows patients to work in a virtual environment that's safe, fun and motivational," says Dr. Herz, program director and assistant professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Occupational Therapy. "The games require visual perception, eye-hand coordination, figure-ground relationships and sequenced movement, so it's a huge treatment tool from an occupational therapy perspective." He even conducted a study to back it up.
Dr. Herz gathered 20 Parkinson's patients and had them play Wii for an hour three times a week for four weeks. These patients were all in a stage of the disease where both sides of the body are already affected but with no significant gait disturbances yet. "By the middle of the study, we actually had a number of people who could [defeat] their opponent out in the first round, which amazed us," says Dr. Herz.
Participants were found to have increased levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that's deficient in Parkinson's patients. More dopamine meant that the patients' voluntary functional movements were improved. That's not all. Dr. Herz also found that the patients' depressions went down to zero. Wow.
With a US 45,000 grant from the National Parkinson's Foundation to fuel his research, Dr. Herz's next step is to test the Balance Board and expand his studies. "I think we're going to be using virtual reality and games a lot more because it provides a controlled physical environment that allows patients to participate in the activities they need or want to do. A patient doesn't have to go to a bowling alley and worry about environmental problems or distractions," he said.
On that note, Dr. Herz shared his positive opinion on gaming: ""Game systems are the future of rehab," he said. "About 60 percent of the study participants decided to buy a Wii for themselves. That speaks volumes for how this made them feel."
More on Wii fitness:
http://feeds2.feedburner.com/~ff/qj/wii?d=yIl2AUoC8zA http://feeds2.feedburner.com/~ff/qj/wii?d=dnMXMwOfBR0 http://feeds2.feedburner.com/~ff/qj/wii?d=7Q72WNTAKBA