Video games like the Wii build more than muscles.
Turns out they can also improve motor skills, the delicate interplay among brain, nerves and muscles that is interrupted by a stroke.
(Picture from Nintendo.)
A randomized study in Toronto gave some stroke patients a variety of Wii games, including cooking and kids' games, and left others to traditional recreation.
Those who played with Wii demonstrated "significant" motor skill improvement, compared with the controls.
What's going on? Repetition, said Gustavo Saposnik.
The way you return a stroke victim to life is by repeating movements over-and-over, as intensely as possible. Chopping a virtual carrot does this. So does playing a virtual game of Jenga with the grandkids.
The study shows, however, that there are measurable benefits from the video game beyond just being part of a family, or the self-esteem from winning the game. You're retraining your nerves to actions that will bring you back to life. And since it's fun, you're going to do it, unlike normal physical therapy.
So if you want to bring someone back to an active life, remember. Make it fun.
This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com