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Occupational therapists use Wii for Parkinson's study
Date:4/6/2008

Its Ingrid Bells turn at bat. She steps up to the plate, awaiting the pitch. A 70-mph fastball soars toward her. She swings and connects with the ball.

Foul ball! Everyone cheers for her anyway.

This baseball games not taking place on a field, and theres no real bat or ball to be seen. Mrs. Bell is playing the Nintendo Wii as part of her occupational therapy. She is among 30 Parkinsons disease patients participating in a Medical College of Georgia study to determine if occupational therapy enhances the treatment of the disease.

Parkinsons disease affects daily tasks that people take for granted. Brushing teeth, getting out of bed and walking become a problem for these patients because of dopamine depletion, which results in stiffness or slowing of movement and fine motor dysfunction.

Occupational therapy looks at how the illness affects the patients whole life, from the psychological, cognitive and sensory motor standpoints, says Dr. Ben Herz, assistant professor of occupational therapy in the School of Allied Health Sciences and a study principal investigator along with Dr. John Morgan, neurologist. Our therapists are responsible for helping someone maintain or gain their independence with functional activities.

While occupational therapy is frequently used in the comprehensive care of Parkinsons patients, evidence is needed to support its short- or long-term effectiveness, says Dr. Herz.

Were hoping to show a slowing of the progression of the disease and a decrease in medication while increasing function. If we can teach patients to exercise and do functional activities, maybe we can have them take less medications, he says.

Study participants are divided into an experimental group receiving therapy or a control group that does not. Each participant meets individually with an occupational therapist for one hour a week for eight weeks. Participants in both groups are given functional and sta
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Contact: Paula Hinely
phinely@mcg.edu
706-721-3646
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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