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Nintendo Wii Treats Symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease

July 22nd 2009

The Nintendo Wii may help treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including depression, according to a recent study.
By Anelise Qumerais

The Nintendo Wii may help treat symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, including depression, according to a recent study published by researchers at the Medical College of Georgia.

During the study, 20 Parkinson’s patients played Wii for an hour three times a week, for four weeks. Participants played two daily games of tennis and bowling, and one game of boxing.

Results showed that simulated sports games increased the player’s fine motor skills and energy levels.

"The Wii allows patients to work in a virtual environment that's safe, fun and motivational," said Dr. Ben Herz, lead researcher and program director at the School of Allied Health Sciences Department of Occupational Therapy, according to ScienceDaily. "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."

Perhaps the most impressive find, though, was that most patient’s depression levels decreased to zero while playing Wii. Depression afflicts roughly 45 percent of people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disease that impairs motor skills.

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

The study results were made public during the fifth annual Games for Health Conference, held in Boston.