Video games used for ICU physical therapy

Oct. 8, 2011 at 12:13 AM
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BALTIMORE, Oct. 8 (UPI) -- Interactive video games, which help stroke patients recover, appear to enhance physical therapy for patients in intensive care units, U.S. researchers say.

Study leader Michelle E. Kho of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and colleagues identified a select group of 22 critically ill adult patients for a one-year period who received video games as part of routine physical therapy.

The patients were part of a group of 410 patients who received standard early physical therapy in the medical intensive care unit during the same time frame from physical therapists.

The patients in the study, mostly males ages 32-64 were admitted to the medical intensive care unit as a result of health problems, such as respiratory failure, sepsis and cardiovascular issues.

These 22 patients participated in 42 physical therapy sessions that included use of Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit video game consoles -- video game activities included boxing, bowling and use of the balance board.

Almost half of the 20-minute sessions, all provided under the direct supervision of a physical therapist, included patients who were mechanically ventilated. The physical therapists chose these activities primarily to improve patients' stamina and balance.

"As always, patient safety was a top priority, given that healthy people playing video games may be injured during routine gaming, but when properly selected and supervised by experienced physical therapists, patients enjoyed the challenge of the video games and welcomed the change from their physical therapy routines," senior author Dale M. Needham said.

The study was published online in the Journal of Critical Care.

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