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Nintendo Wii 'helps Parkinson's patients'

Nintendo Wii 'helps Parkinson's patients'
7th April 2008

A study being conducted at the Medical College of Georgia is testing the affect of occupational therapy on Parkinson's patients.

By utilizing a Nintendo Wii, researchers at the facility are attempting to enhance patients' abilities to perform everyday tasks, such as brushing teeth and getting out of bed unassisted.

Participants have been divided into an experimental group receiving therapy or a control group that does not.

Both groups meet with an occupational therapist each week and are given functional and standardised tests, which are evaluated on a quality-of-life scale before and after therapy begins, then four months later.

Early results have shown short-term gains, with approximately 98 per cent of the functionality goals being set by researchers being met.

Speaking about the study's unusual therapy methods, lead researcher Dr Ben Herz said: "Because the Wii is interactive and you have to do certain functional movements to be successful, it's an effective modality for working with Parkinson’s patients.

"We're hoping to show a slowing of the progression of the disease and a decrease in medication while increasing function. If we can teach patients to exercise and do functional activities, maybe we can have them take less medications."

According to the Parkinson's Disease Society, some 120,000 individuals living in the UK suffer from Parkinson's.