Video games may help Parkinson’s sufferers’ coordination

Kevin Magna

October 24, 2011

Seniors need to improve homes, visit doctors to avoid fallsA new study aimed to see if using video games that make players move their bodies, similar to Wii and Kinect, could help the coordination of Parkinson's disease sufferers. Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco's School of Nursing paired up with California-based gaming company Red Hill Studios, to create nine "clinically inspired" video games to help Parkinson's patients better deal with their disease.

During the 12-week study, 20 participants with moderate levels of Parkinson's worked the games. Each wore nine tracking sensors so scientists could get more accurate readings, and each game had different difficulty levels so each participant could customize the settings based on their abilities.

From the data, researchers found that 65 percent of gamers showed longer stride length, while 55 percent of players had increased gait velocity and another 55 percent of participants reported having improved balance confidence.

Caregivers may want to start a daily exercise regimen with their parents as a way to help improve mobility and decrease falling risks. Walking, swimming and yoga are all options that are low-impact and safe on joints. Although exercise may reduce the chances of falling, it can still happen and it's better to be prepared. Installing a senior alert system into a loved one's home gives them access to help in an instant in case of an emergency. 

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