A research from St. Michael's Hospital has indicated that virtual reality and other video games can significantly improve motor function in stroke patients.
Patients who played video games, such as Wii and Playstation, were up to five times more likely to show improvements in arm motor function compared to those who had standard therapy.
"Virtual reality gaming is a promising and potentially useful alternative to enhance motor improvement after stroke," said Gustavo Saposnik, the lead author of the study and the director of the Stroke Outcomes Research Unit at the hospital.
"It provides an affordable, enjoyable and effective alternative to intensify treatment and promote motor recovery after a stroke," added Saposnik.
Current research suggests effective therapy needs to be challenging, repetitive, task-specific and novel. Video games apply these concepts, helping the brain to heal through a process called neuroplasticity - the brain's ability to remodel itself after injury by creating new nerve cell connections.
"Recovery of motor skill depends on neurological recovery, adaptation, and learning new strategies," said Saposnik.
"Virtual reality systems drive neuroplasticity and lead to benefits in motor function improvement after stroke," added Saposnik.
The study has been published in the April edition of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.