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Video Games May Benefit Kids With Cerebral Palsy

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Often reviled for encouraging kids to spend too much time in front of screens, new research suggests that some video games may actually benefit those with cerebral palsy.

The finding comes from a new study in which researchers observed 17 children with cerebral palsy as they played four “active games” on the Nintendo Wii — Bowling, Tennis, Boxing and Dance Dance Revolution.

They found that the games encouraged repetitive movements, while providing positive feedback in a fun environment, according to the study published online this week in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.

Significantly, the researchers said children with cerebral palsy who typically utilized one, dominant side of their body were engaging their full body when playing the games, suggesting that the activity could be a low-impact way of achieving therapeutic goals.

“While our results did not show that (active video) game play can be regarded as a replacement for more vigorous physical activity or muscle strengthening, we found that some games may provide targeted therapy focused on specific joints or movements,” said Elaine Biddiss of the University of Toronto who led the study.

“Future development and optimization of AVG technologies may usher in a new age in physical rehabilitation where virtual environments provide an arena for neuroplastic change in the comfort of one’s home,” she said.

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