Video Game for Stroke Therapy - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Video Game for Stroke Therapy

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    Video Game for Stroke Therapy

    There is a trial at the University of Alabama at Birmingham that is using a video game to help stroke patients get a better recovery at home. (Published Friday, April 13, 2018)

    A stroke can happen anywhere, at any time. And 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 said.

    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 therapy.

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    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.

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

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

    But CI therapy is expensive. The at-home video game is cost effective.

    “The costs are reduced because a therapist doesn’t have to be involved for the whole treatment period,” explained Uswatte.

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    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," said Reynolds. "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 trial, contact professor Uswatte at guswatte@uab.edu or 205-975-5089.

    Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor.

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