Physical activities such as playing cards and repeatedly throwing a foam ball or wad of paper into a wastepaper basket are just as effective in helping people regain strength and co-ordination following a stroke as playing virtual reality games, a new study has found.
The study, published in the ‘Lancet Neurology’ journal, was based on a clinical trial conducted at 14 centres in four countries in which patients were randomised into two groups.
One group received one-hour sessions of virtual reality using the Nintendo Wii system and the other spent the same amount of time doing simple recreational activities such as playing cards or dominoes.
Patients randomised to both groups saw a 30 per cent and 40 per cent improvement in motor performance at the end of two weeks of the intervention and four weeks after the intervention, respectively.
“There was no significant difference between the two groups in terms of strength, dexterity, gross motor skills, quality of life or activities of daily living. We all like technology and have the tendency to think that new technology is better than old-fashioned strategies, but sometimes that’s not the case,” said Dr. Gustavo Saposnik, scientist at St. Michael’s Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute in Toronto.
This study revealed that simple recreational activities that can be implemented anywhere may be as effective as technology.