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Playing simple card games, such as snap, can help stroke patients with their recovery, say Canadian researchers. The scientists found it improved patients’ motor skills. Playing Jenga, bingo or a games consol like Wii worked equally well.

They told the Lancet Neurology that the type of task used for motor rehabilitation might be less relevant, as long as it is intensive, repetitive and gets the hands and arms moving. The Canadian team recruited 141 patients who had recently suffered a stroke, and now had some impaired movement in one or both of their hands and arms.

Approximately, half of the patients, at random, were then allocated to the Wii rehab, while the rest were asked to do other recreational activities, such as playing cards. All of the patients continued to receive usual stroke rehabilitation care and support on top of the 10, one-hour sessions of gaming or card playing for a fortnight. Both groups showed significant improvement in their motor skills at the end of the two weeks and four weeks later.

Investigator Dr Gustavo Saposnik, from St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said: “We all like technology and have the tendency to think that new technology is better than old-fashioned strategies, but sometimes that’s not the case. In this study, we found that simple recreational activities that can be implemented anywhere may be as effective as technology.”

Alexis Wieroniey of the UK’s Stroke Association said the findings were particularly encouraging because they suggest that inexpensive, easily accessible activities can help some stroke survivors in their recovery. “Thousands of stroke survivors are left with mobility problems, and this can lead to a devastating loss of independence,”
she added.
BBC