Family 411: The use of video games for rehab
More people are turning to video games to help recover from neurological conditions.
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's 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."
The 54-year-old, Sasaki, is one of about 800,000 Americans a year who suffer a stroke. Sasaki tells us 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."
"There were points in time where she did not know where to take her arm, where to reach and she kind of figures that out," said Occupational Therapist Steve Childress.
Physical and occupational therapists tell us 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. 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 that it is a friend to me, something helpful and useful, a tool I can use, so I am embracing this technology," said Sasaki.
Therapists tell us more virtual reality games are under development that can help people simulate routine tasks like going to the grocery store.