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Computer game helps stroke survivors

Published: 8:07PM Sunday February 17, 2013 Source: ONE News

Kiwi scientists have developed a computer game which will launch mid year, making a massive difference to the lives of stroke survivors.

One participant is for the first time regaining movement in his fingers and arm.

Almost a year ago, Tom Glenn survived a massive stroke but lost his ability to move his fingers and arms.

But after four weeks playing the computer game he is making startling progress.

"Now I've got free flow of my arm really, I can move it out here," Glenn said, demonstrating stretching his arm.

"I've lifted that hand a lot higher than what I've been able to do because previous to that it's been virtually clenched and closed," he said.

"But now it's just outstanding. I put that down entirely to this process."

Scientists at the Callaghan Institute are launching games that help treat arm and finger paralysis after a stroke.

The technology called Able Reach will soon be available worldwide.

Human movement scientist Kimberlee Jordan said the games encourage stroke survivors to do a lot of reaching movements to help them remember how to use their arm properly.

The game has a strap-on mouse for wrists that seize or shake.

In the "Mosquito Splat" game where you have to hit a moving target, each level gets faster and faster and more objects appear which complicate the path that you've got to choose.

Elliott Kernohan, IM Able CEOsaid: "It's movement and control of movement, concentration, decision making. And all of these together help the brain, so a stroke is about a brain injury."

Early results from a trial are promising with five out of seven cases showing noticeable improvements.

The game and mouse costs less than $1000.