While you thought technologies like Wii and Kinect were just for entertainment and athletic gaming freaks, this piece of news just opens up another perspective, and how. Game therapy is said to help patients show some improvements, according to reports. Video games have been considered as an effective tool for treatments, like distraction for recovering burn victims or an alternative for anesthesia in case of minor surgery, in recent times and have shown potential in the medical field.

Video games used for physical therapy

Video games used for physical therapy

There are patients who, upon the use of game therapy have shown signs of improvement. Ray Pizarro is one such patient who was paralyzed in an accident 10 years ago. The game therapy requires him to grab gems in a virtual mine environment and the motion-capture technology tracks his movements, as he exercises muscles and improves his mobility in physical therapy with this game. “My posture improved because you have to sit up up right in order to be able to reach properly. My endurance has improved, and also my reaching ability and range of motion because they do force you to reach out a little more than you're used to comfortably,” he said. 

A research team at the University of Southern California's Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT) has developed the games Pizarro plays. Belinda Lange who leads the team reveals that these games incorporate gesture sensing technology that responds to physical movement from the patient. “We're leveraging the technologies behind the current video games, so using something like the Microsoft Kinect that can track people in a very low cost way and without having to hold any devices,” she adds. 

These games are being used in California and Germany, including Precision Rehabilitation in Long Beach. However, they are still in the pilot stage. David Kaarchem, a former software engineer, who was one of the first patients to test the game after suffering from a stroke has been helping the team through the development process. He says, “I got to use my left arm really for the first time. My only complaint is that I want it faster and sooner.” The team is researching on methods of employing such games at home. While tech has far reaching effects, this new innovation in the medical field could possibly do phenomenal wonders.

Reuters

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