Can The Wii Help Treat Parkinson’s?

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A British doctor has received £35,000 (about $55,000) to find out if the Wii can help increase motor skills and overall well-being of individuals with Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s UK has funded their first ever Wii study to see if exercise with the gaming console can help with the illness.

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“If the project is successful the benefits could be twofold,” principal investigator on the study Dr. Cathy Craig said. She will be working with a team out of Queen’s University, Belfast. “It could allow us to develop a simple way to assess Parkinson’s symptoms yet provide a safe and effective way for people with the condition to be more active and keep fit.”

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A survey of 100 people completed by completed by the organization in September 2010 found out that the two thirds of the people felt that the Wii helped them manage symptom’s better, but the study added that the device can’t be used to judge the severity of someone’s condition. This news that the Wii might help individuals with this disease isn’t exactly new knowledge. In the summer of 2009, Medical College of Georgia tested Wii Sports on 20 people with varying stages of Parkinson’s disease for eight weeks. The test subjects played the Wii for one hour a day, three to four times a week.  Across the board by the end of the study, they all had increased motor function, high energy levels and decreased rigidity. Most of all, they were all less depressed, which tends to be a big problem with people with Parkinson’s. By the middle of the study, some subjects had regained enough motor skills to beat their opponents in the first round – something doctors had not expecting, according to The Telegraph.

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