Researchers have already noted that video games can be tapped as a means to treat mental health conditions. While some still have doubts on whether such an idea is really feasible, more studies and research have been undertaken to substantiate the claim and video game therapy has already yielded positive effects in children diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP).

A cross-sectional quantitative research published in early 2015 even showed that, while conventional therapy is still advantageous for children between 4 and 14 years of age who are diagnosed with CP when it comes to improving their mobility for daily activities, video game therapy was more effective in helping them gain more control over their upper limbs.

While the research above titled "Video-game based therapy performed by children with cerebral palsy: a cross-over randomized controlled trial and a cross-sectional quantitative measure of physical activity" did not show that video game therapy is a viable replacement for conventional therapy, it did prove that video games can be used to enhance the number of movements a child with CP can do.

Even people who are not directly involved with people diagnosed with CP should know that therapies can be a pain, especially if it's the type of therapy that would force a person to move limbs that are numb or just plain weaker. Frustration is the worst enemy... the next is boredom.

When doctors and therapists use constraints to force patients to use the "lesser" or "weaker" limbs, frustration will definitely rise. That's why some therapists are looking into video games. That is, instead of restraining a part of the body to force the child to use the weaker limb, the child would voluntarily use it for rewards in the game while having fun at the same time.

Dr. Elaine Biddiss is an engineering scientist at Bloorview Research Institute who is developing video games for therapy and she believes that the games have a lot of potential to help children diagnosed with CP.

"It's the right of kids to play, and these kids [at Holland Bloorview] are so inspirational... At the end of the day, I feel an obligation to make these therapies as fun and effective as possible," Dr. Biddiss said.

Photo: Matthew Allen Hecht | Flickr

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