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Family 411 - Video game rehab

Family 411 - Video game rehab

More people are turning to video games to help recover from neurological conditions.

Reporter Lu Ann Stoia has more in our “Family 411” report on why some patients are telling their doctors--game on!

Stroke survivor Grace Sasaki is using video games to help her brain and body re-connect.

Sasaki has a family business and five children, so she is determined to get back what she lost.

“Usually I am the one telling them to stop playing video games and now here I am playing video games myself,” said Sasaki.

The 54-year-old Sasaki is one of about 800,000 Americans a year who suffer a stroke.

Sasaki says her therapy is a game and a workout.

“I wouldn't normally go actual rock climbing, so it gives me a chance to do some of those stretches and movement in a game,” said Sasaki.

“There were points in time where she did not know where to take her arm, where to reach,” said Steve Childress, an Occupational Therapist with Ohio Health. “She kind of figures that out.”

Physical and occupational therapists say traditional tools to develop strength and movement are important, but using video games is one more way to motivate patients.

“After she found the video games, she turned a switch,” said Childress. “Things came around.”

Playing games get people excited about therapy and patients want to practice at home to beat the next level.

“So, then, you want to do it again and again to get a better score, just like my kids do,” said Sasaki.

The love of the game can mean patients doing more repetitions, which can replace dozens of hours spent with medical professionals.

And treatment costs can be reduced.

“The technology, as it continues to advance and grow and it becomes less expensive, we can put this in the hands of our patients,” said Childress.

Therapists say they are seeing the video games help people with neurological conditions from dementia to multiple sclerosis.

“Now I have a totally different relationship with the video game,” said Sasaki. “That it is a friend to me, something helpful and useful, a tool I can use. So I am embracing this technology.”

Therapists say more virtual reality games are under development that can help people simulate routine tasks like going to the grocery store.

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