Nintendo Wii relieves the symptoms of Parkinson's disease

Posted on: 06 December 2010 by Rhian Mainwaring

Feedback from Wii users has encouraged the Parkinson's UK charity to award a grant of £35,000 to Dr Cathy Craig to investigate the benefits further.

Parkinsons study WiiThis encouraging news has come from overwhelmingly positive feedback from Parkinson's sufferers who have found that the Nintendo Wii dramatically improves their symptoms.

Dr Cathy Craig at the School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, will investigate the potential benefits of the Wii for Parkinson's sufferers further, to see just how beneficial the console could be.

The study arose after users had reported that the Wii is not only a great way to exercise in the comfort their own home, but it also improved balance, movement  and mood. Exercise has already been shown to benefit sufferers, as it protects the nerve cells that would usually die from the disease aiding a longer and better quality of life.

A recent poll showed that 68 percent of users* agreed that the Wii helped them to manage their symptoms, symptoms which many sufferers will know to be slowed movement, rigidity and tremor as well as a lack of balance and  co-ordination.

Dr Craig’s team aims are to evaluate the benefits of existing games using Wii technology and harness the power of this movement based game technology to develop their own specially designed bespoke games to be used by people with Parkinson’s.

The research will aim to address two questions:

  • Does the use of the Wii system improve the physical abilities and lifestyle of people with Parkinson’s?
  • How do the various games improve specific symptoms of Parkinson’s including tremor, slowness of movement and balance?

We look forward to hearing the results and keep our fingers crossed that whilst this may not be the path to a definitive cure, it could drastically improve the quality of life for sufferers of the disease.

Are you suffering from Parkinson's? Follow this link to learn more about Parkinson's UK and their work with Nintendo Wii.

Survey

*1102 people with Parkinson’s who have ever used a Wii responded to the online survey during September/October 2010. The majority of respondents using the Wii are aged 45-64 (71 per cent). The majority of respondents play the Wii with their partner (46 per cent) or on their own (39 per cent).

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