Video Game for Stroke Therapy

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (KFSN) -- A stroke can happen anywhere, at any time.

Recovery from a stroke can be a long process, taking many years for some to even get a partial recovery. Only ten percent of people who suffer a stroke fully recover. But there is a trial that is using a video game to help stroke patients get a better recovery right at home.

Jeremy Reynolds is serious about his screen time and with good reason. This game is designed to help him recover from a stroke he suffered in 2015.

"I lost a lot of the use of my right arm, mainly my right hand," Reynolds shared.

That made everyday activities difficult to do. That is why Reynolds is taking part in a clinical trial to see if an at-home video game therapy is as effective as traditional methods of treatment. The game, called Recovery Rapids, has patients perform a series of tasks designed to exercise the affected body part while avoiding the use of the opposite working limb.

Dr. Gitendra Uswatte, the Professor of Psychology and Physical Therapy at the University of Alabama said, "So to break that habit of using the less affected side of the body to accomplish activities."

Recovery Rapids is based on constraint-induced movement, or CI therapy, where a patient is encouraged to use his affected arm more often, and limit the use of his stronger limb.

"Patients go from using their arm five to ten percent of the time compared to their stroke before treatment to 50 percent of the time," Uswatte said.
Traditional CI therapy is expensive. With this at-home video game, "The costs are reduced because a therapist doesn't have to be involved for the whole treatment period," Uswatte explained.

The patient wears an activity tracker that detects movements, which are projected onto the avatar in the game. That's scoring points with Reynolds.

"It was a lot easier for me to do the video game than have a list of exercises. It was a fun way to accomplish what I was trying to do."
Professor Uswatte says there doesn't seem to be a limit as to how long after a stroke someone can benefit from CI therapy. Eligible patients for ongoing trials have to be more than six months after their stroke and will have to have the ability to partially open and close their hand, and some movement of the wrist, elbow and shoulder.

For more information on the CI therapy trial or this report, please contact:
Gitendra Uswatte, PhD
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