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Wii-hab may enhance Parkinson's treatment
Date:6/11/2009

Studies have shown that exercise and video games independently can increase the production of dopamine, a neurotransmitter deficient in Parkinson's patients. He suspects that's the case with the Wii's exercise effect. Dopamine also helps improve voluntary, functional movements, which Parkinson's patients "use or lose," Dr. Herz says.

Wii, which features simulated movements such as cracking an egg, swinging a tennis racket and throwing a bowling ball, responds to a player's movements rather than cues from a controller, so players can do full body movements and see their progress on a screen.

"I think we're going to be using virtual reality and games a lot more because it provides a controlled physical environment that allows patients to participate in the activities they need or want to do. A patient doesn't have to go to a bowling alley and worry about environmental problems or distractions," Dr. Herz says.

Dr. Herz's research was funded by a $45,000 grant from the National Parkinson's Foundation. Next he plans to test the Wii Fit balance board with Parkinson's patients and expand his studies to multiple sites.

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


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Contact: Paula Hinely
phinely@mcg.edu
706-721-3646
Medical College of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert

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