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How Video Games Help ICU Patients with Physical Therapy

Physical therapists often work with ICU patients. These patients often suffer from a wide range of trauma. A treatment currently found effective with people who suffer from cardiovascular disease, respiratory problems, sepsis or almost any other type of condition is the use of interactive video games, also known as motion games.

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So much is the beneficial effect, that many physical therapists are currently integrating the use of video game consoles, such as the Kinect for Xbox 360 or Wii because of their physical activity qualities. These types of games engage the attention and interest of the patient, while at the same time giving him or her the physical movement and exercise they need.

Although professionals in the medical field need to conduct further research to determine the physical therapy benefits and how the games help meet these goals, many physical therapists are carefully considering the integration of motion gaming as a patient treatment into their curriculum. An additional benefit to the integration of these types of motion games lies in the fact that the integration is inexpensive and the patient can continue its use even when physical therapy sessions discontinue.

This interest in using motion games as a tool for physical therapy is not unfounded. A recent study published in the Journal of Critical Care and conducted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine found that patients who participated in this type of gaming increased their motor skills, physical abilities and had a more positive outlook for the outcome of their medical condition.

In the study patients were asked to participate in 42 different physical therapy sessions, which included 20 minutes of interactive gameplay. These games involved physical activity and included the participation in bowling, boxing and surfing on balance boards as well as other activities that promoted physical health. Upon concluding the study, researchers found that participants were more interested in physical therapy. While under the supervision of a physical therapist and/or physical therapy assistant actually enjoyed the challenging video games even more than their traditional physical therapy routines.

Physical therapy assistants who plan on integrating Wii, Kinect or any other type of motion game should first participate in the gaming activity themselves before demonstrating it to patients. The gaming event needs to be a timed one, otherwise patients and the physical therapist assistant may become too involved in game participation, allowing the time to get away from them and interfering with other physical therapy activities.

About the Author

Daniel Davis is a freelance blogger and game geek. Recently, Daniel has been focusing his writing on college education programs like: physical therapy assistant programs and certificates. When Daniel is not writing you can find him on Xbox Live.