Video Game for Stroke Therapy


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — A stroke can happen anywhere, at any time. And recovery from a stroke can be a long process, taking many years for some to even get a partial recovery. Only ten percent of people who suffer a stroke fully recover. But there is a trial that is using a video game to help stroke patients get a better recovery right at home.

Jeremy Reynolds is serious about his screen time and with good reason. This game is designed to help him recover from a stroke he suffered in 2015.

“I lost a lot of the use of my right arm, mainly my right hand,” Reynolds shared.

That made everyday activities difficult to do. That is why Reynolds is taking part in a clinical trial to see if an at-home video game therapy is as effective as traditional methods of therapy. The game, called Recovery Rapids, has patients perform a series of tasks designed to exercise the affected body part, while avoiding the use of the opposite working limb.

Gitendra Uswatte, PhD, the Professor of Psychology and Physical Therapy at University of Alabama at Birmingham said, “So to break that habit of using the less affected side of the body to accomplish activities.” (Read Full Interview)

Recovery Rapids is based off of constraint-induced movement, or CI therapy, where a patient is encouraged to use his affected arm more often, and limit use of his stronger limb.

“Patients go from using their arm five to ten percent of the time compared to their stroke before treatment to 50 percent of the time,” Uswatte told Ivanhoe.

But CI therapy is expensive. With this at-home video game …

“The costs are reduced because a therapist doesn’t have to be involved for the whole treatment period,” explained Uswatte.

The patient wears an activity tracker that detects movements, which are projected onto the avatar in the game. That’s scoring points with Reynolds.

Reynolds said, “It was a lot easier for me to do the video game than have a list of exercises. It was a fun way to accomplish what I was trying to do.”

Professor Uswatte says there doesn’t seem to be a limit as to how long after a stroke someone can benefit from CI therapy. Eligible patients for ongoing trials have to be more than six months after their stroke and will have to have the ability to partially open and close their hand, and some movement of the wrist, elbow and shoulder. For more information on the trial, contact professor Uswatte at or 205-975-5089.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Field Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer; Cyndy McGrath, Supervising Producer; Hayley Hudson, Assistant Producer; Dave Harrison, Editor.


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STROKE: A stroke happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving brain tissue of oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. A stroke may be caused by a blocked artery, which is a ischemic stroke, or the leaking or bursting of a blood vessel, a hemorrhagic stroke. Some people may experience only a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain that doesn’t cause permanent damage. If you notice someone experiencing stroke symptoms, get them medical help immediately. Stroke symptoms include trouble with speaking and understanding, paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg, trouble with seeing in one or both eyes, headaches and trouble walking. Lifestyle risk factors are being overweight or obese, physically inactive, partaking in binge drinking, and use of illicit drugs. Medical risk factors are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, cardiovascular disease, and family history. Strokes can be treated and prevented, and many fewer Americans die of stroke now than in the past.



CI THERAPY: One approach is constraint-induced therapy (CI therapy, or CIT). It is a family of rehabilitation therapies designed to help “rewire” the brain and regain some level of limb function in those who have had an injury or illness such as traumatic brain injury, stroke, brain tumor, or multiple sclerosis. This therapy involves constraining movements of the less-affected arm, usually with a sling or mitt for 90% of waking hours, while intensively inducing the use of the more-affected arm. Concentrated, repetitive training of the more-affected limb is usually performed for six hours a day for a two to three week period. Stroke Engine says that compliance of the patient for the rigorous restraint and training schedule, as well as the required intensity of therapy provided by therapists in a clinical setting are important issues to consider.



RECOVERY RAPIDS: Gitrenda Uswatte, PhD, Professor of Psychology and Physical Therapy at University of Alabama at Birmingham has a way to bring this therapy to the patients, without them having to leave their homes. Recovery Rapids is a video game that’s based on CI therapy. Professor Uswatte says, “putting the therapy in the form of the video game potentially allows us to get this effective treatment out to many, many patients.” One of the things that is different from other stroke treatments is that patients who are months removed from their stroke can take part and benefit. Therapists get a live feed of their patient using the game to check on them.

(Source: Gitrenda Uswatte, PhD)



Gitendra Uswatte, PhD


If this story or any other Ivanhoe story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at

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