We find no surprises in this latest study:
When stroke victims played virtual reality games in which they imagined they were diving with sharks or snowboarding down a narrow slope, their ability to walk eventually improved, researchers reported in a small study.
Doctors called the findings promising, especially since the patients had all had strokes more than a year earlier, a time frame when further recovery is unlikely…
The patients in the study, which appeared in Thursday’s issue of the journal Stroke, all had weakness on one side of their body. Researchers randomly assigned them to a control group or a virtual reality group. The control group got no intervention while the virtual reality group used the video training for an hour a day, five days a week for more than a month.
“This was a group of people that you would not expect to improve, and that’s what made it interesting that they did,” said Dr. Robert Felberg, director of the stroke program at Ochsner Clinic Foundation in New Orleans.
The three games in which the patient’s body is superimposed into the scene were used to build a range of motion, balance, mobility, stepping and walking skills. One game simulated going up and down stairs, another let the patient go deep-sea diving with sharks and the third recreated snowboarding by simulating gliding down a narrow slope, jumping and avoiding obstacles.
The five patients who played the games improved in walking, standing and climbing steps, researchers said. Also, brain imaging done before and after the experiment indicated a reorganization of brain function after the therapy, said lead author, Sung H. You, assistant professor of physical therapy at Hampton University in Hampton, Va.
(hat tip: Uber-Review)