A virtual way to rehab from a stroke

Study finds video game-based therapy helps stroke patients improve their motor skills while also reducing therapist time, cost of treatment.

Brian Consiglio: After a stroke, patients may lose feeling in an arm or experience reduced movement that limits their ability to complete basic tasks. Traditional rehab therapy can be intensive, time-consuming, expensive and inconvenient.

Now, MU occupational therapist Rachel Proffitt is using a motion-sensor video game, called Recovery Rapids, to allow patients recovering from a stroke to improve their motor skills and affected arm movements at home while checking in from time to time with a therapist via telehealth.

Rachel Proffitt: “One of the things we are exploring is using video games and complementing that with a telehealth approach, they are able to do their therapy from where they are without having to travel, and use something that maybe is a little bit more fun and something that provides data back to the therapist to track their progress.”

Consiglio: Proffitt said the patient is virtually placed in a kayak, and as they go down the river, they perform arm motions simulating movements such as paddling or steering. By saving time and money while increasing convenience and overall health outcomes, the innovative approach has provided several benefits.

Proffitt: “The game that they played for this study, it’s fun. The task changes, it adjusts to their level of difficulty as they continue to improve. They are able to get in the higher number of repetitions that lead to hopefully changes in the brain and their ability to use their arm in everyday life. To them, they are just playing a game, it doesn’t feel like therapy, it doesn’t feel like rehab, they are having fun.”

Consiglio: For more on this research, visit showme.missouri.edu.

I’m Brian Consiglio, with a spotlight on Mizzou.

Learn more about the research here

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