A new nationwide study is examining the use of gaming systems for rehabilitating stroke patients.

Researchers in Calgary are taking part in a study that is looking at the effectiveness of using Nintendo Wii systems for stroke rehabilitation.

The Wii system is motion controlled and detects a wide range of body movements which are then integrated into the virtual games.

Patients who suffer a stroke often have limited mobility in their upper extremities and the gaming system offers another way for therapists to engage patients during their recovery.

“The hypothesis is that the Wii will not only be more enjoyable but lead to better range of motion and more successful rehabilitation overall,” says Dr. Sean Dukelow, Alberta Health Services (AHS) stroke specialist and a member of the University of Calgary’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute.

The study will involve 160 stroke patients from across the country including 10 each at the Foothills Medical Centre and Dr. Vernon Fanning Centre.

The study looks at cognitive and motor function of patients who use Wii in the first three months after their stroke and compares them with patients who used traditional recreational activities like dominoes and card games.

The researchers will also test patients for anxiety levels and depression.