Wii games help improve coordination in Parkinson's patients

Posted by Aharon Etengoff

San Francisco (CA) - A recent study funded by the National Parkinson's Foundation has concluded that Wii games help improve coordination, reflexes and other movement-related skills.

"The Wii allows patients to work in a virtual environment that's safe, fun and motivational," explained Dr. Ben Herz, program director and assistant professor in the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Occupational Therapy. "The games require visual perception, eye-hand coordination, figure-ground relationships and sequenced movement, so it's a huge treatment tool from an occupational therapy perspective."

During the eight-week study, 20 Parkinson's patients spent an hour playing Wii sports games three times a week.

"By the middle of the study, we actually had a number of people who could [defeat] their opponent out in the first round, which amazed us," said Herz. He noted that participants had also displayed significant improvements in rigidity, movement, fine motor skills and energy levels.

According to Herz, exercise increases the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine - which helps improve voluntary and functional movements.

"Game systems are the future of rehab. About 60 percent of the study participants decided to buy a Wii for themselves. That speaks volumes for how this made them feel," added Herz.

The above-mentioned study was originally cited in the Medical College of Georgia and reported by Science Daily.