Stroke can cause permanent neurological damage, complications, and death. It’s the leading cause of adult disability in the United States and Europe and the second leading cause of death worldwide. Stroke experts in the U.K. are working with Limbs Alive to develop a collection of action video games that encourage patients to re-learn arm and hand control of their weak limbs. In Short, the video game will help stroke patients to recover from physical disabilities.
Stroke experts at Newcastle University, working with Limbs Alive Ltd, have developed the first action video game which is designed to enable the patients re-learn control of their weak arm and hand after stroke.
After a stroke, a patient can recover control of the weak arm or hand even after a long time. But this requires huge time and daily therapy. The process is so costly and difficult to follow. The newly-developed suite of computer game called “Circus Challenge” promises to reduce the cost and hassle.
“Circus Challenge” is the first action video game designed specifically to be played at home and to provide an expert therapy programme. Patients use wireless controllers to learn various circus-related skills, from lion taming and juggling to high diving and trapeze work. As they succeed at various tasks, they go on to more challenging quests that involve greater skill, strength, and co-ordination. The game has been designed in a such a way that players at different skill levels can compete.
Pediatric neuroscience professor Janet Eyre at Newcastle, who set up Limbs Alive to produce the games, said, “Eighty percent of patients do not regain full recovery of arm and hand function and this really limits their independence and ability to return to work. Patients need to be able to use both their arms and hands for most everyday activities such as doing up a zip, making a bed, tying shoe laces, unscrewing a jar. With our video game, people get engrossed in the competition and action of the circus characters and forget that the purpose of the game is therapy.”
68 year old former ship builder Danny Mann from Dudley in Northumberland, who suffered a stroke in February this year, had never played a video game before trying out the Circus Challenge. According to him, “This is the first time I’ve ever played a video game. It was good fun though it did feel like I was doing exercise and I worked up a sweat! … this game is something different which encourages me to keep going with my therapy. I would really like to play with my grandchildren – I can’t think of a better motivation than sharing a game with them to help me on my road to recovery.”
The team at Newcastle University has received a £1.5m award from the Health Innovation Challenge Fund, a partnership between the Wellcome Trust and the Department of Health.