Games console being used to help hand recovery in stroke patients

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A POPULAR video games console is being used to help stroke patients recover the use of their hands.

The Xbox Kinect, which is normally used to monitor limb movements to control computer games, is being utilised by scientists at the University of Southampton to track and measure movement of joints.

The team, working with Roke Manor Research, are creating special computer games that not only encourage improvements in the patient’s hand and finger agility but also collects data to be analysed by their therapists

The research follows a recent Stroke Association report which stated that stroke survivors were being denied the chance to make their best recovery because of a lack of post-hospital care.

Health sciences academic Dr Cheryl Metcalf, at the University of Southampton, said: “Recovering from a stroke can be a daunting and distressing time for patients and their families.

“Through our research we know that many people recovering from a stroke find their at-home exercises repetitive and often demotivating.

“If they are already finding it difficult and frustrating to move their hands, they need something to encourage them to try harder. We wanted to create a more engaging way to help them recover faster.

“Using the Kinect we have been able to take a commercially available product and develop a highly novel tool that aims to be both cost effective and clinically applicable.”

The planned games are aimed at making the rehabilitation process more interesting for the patient.

The games will adapt to each individual’s ability and help motivate them to reach rehabilitation goals by feeding back higher scores if their joint movements improve.