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Can Wii slow Parkinson's disease?

Doctor gets funding to find out.

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

Not all videogames are bad and violence inducing - some can alleviate symptoms of one of the world's worst diseases: Parkinson's.

A British doctor has been awarded £35,000 to research the benefits that playing Wii can have for people with Parkinson's. Oscar-winning actress Helen Mirren, who was reported to have been paid half a million quid by Nintendo to advertise Wii Fit, is interested to see how the research turns out - she has a close friend with Parkinson's.

The Wii helps Parkinson's sufferers by physically and mentally challenging them - a process that can slow the degradation of nerve cells.

"Keeping moving is really important because of the stiffness. By doing the Wii I find that you loosen up the muscles that are constantly spasming," said Karen Rose, a lady who suffers from Parkinson's. She's been chosen to appear in Nintendo's real story TV adverts.

"Most people with Parkinson's find that they lose their confidence. So I tend to do exercise at home. I've got all the benefits of a gym, but I can do it to fit in with my lifestyle and my medication. It gives you a burst somehow, and it makes you feel better, and then you have a better day."

Dr Cathy Craig, the woman in charge of the research, added: "Our hope is to harness the benefits of the Wii technology to develop a system designed specifically for people with Parkinson's.

"If the project is successful the benefits could be twofold. It could allow us to develop a simple way to assess Parkinson's symptoms yet provide a safe and effective way for people with the condition to be more active and keep fit."

Presumably Microsoft's Kinect and Sony's PlayStation Move could help people with Parkinson's as well.

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