Written by guest writer and stroke survivor, Peter Evans
Did you know games can help increase your brain health? We think that’s pretty cool too! Keep reading to find out how:
1. Games take us “out of our heads” and into recovery
Post-Stroke Depression(PSD), anxiety, and other mental health conditions are common during stroke rehabilitation. Luckily, playing games has shown to be an effective way of taking us out of our heads. This helps keep negative thinking, despair, and worrying at bay. Games played with family or friends can be an especially helpful for promoting social interaction, combating isolation and getting us “out of our heads,” so we can focus on getting better.
2. Games provide repetition without the monotony
Repetition, consistency and high levels of engagement are often cited as key determinants in successful stroke rehabilitation. And, whether it’s picking up a discard in gin rummy, laying down a seven-letter word in Scrabble, or reaching a higher level in Candy Crush, all games require repetitive tasks and actions to reach a larger goal. Hm, that sounds an awful lot like work... but it’s not! Games by their nature are designed to keep us engaged, even entertained, while we complete what might otherwise be a set of repetitive or boring tasks—all the benefits of work without it feeling like, well, work! Repetition has been shown to improve motor function an control after stroke, so why not do it in a fun and engaging way?
3. Games require active participation
During recovery, many stroke survivors find themselves with more time on their hands than they’re used to. And, while watching a great science documentary or listening to a classic audio book may seem like a worthwhile past time—and they are— when it comes to increasing the brain’s neuroplasticity, activities that require active participation are much more helpful. Games require us to show up, pay attention and keep our head in the game. There are rules to learn and master, strategies to test, tasks to conquer and progress to monitor.
4. Games provide clear guidance and objective feedback
In addition to monotony, another common barrier to completing therapy exercises is the confusion on which exercises to complete and how to correctly perform them. Many games provide multiple metrics giving you confidence and more insight into how you’re doing. It’s more than just wins versus losses. Games can provide feedback on overall speed, accuracy, best play or most points per round.
5. Games exercise multiple areas of the brain at once
With games you need to learn and remember the rules, track progress and manage multiple tasks and strategies. These are all great activities for strengthening your brain health after a stroke or other brain injury. Executive function, fine motor skills, memory, concentration and planning are all areas of brain function that are engaged while playing games. The more time a stroke survivor can spend relearning how to simultaneously balance and manage multiple functional activities, the faster and deeper the recovery can be. And Recovery is the name of the game!
If a gamified approach to rehabilitation sounds exciting, get in touch with Neofect to try out any one of their Neofect Smart Rehab tools. Their products include the Smart Board, a device for reach retraining, and the Smart Glove for improving forearm, wrist and hand function. There’s even the the Smart Pegboard, which provides training for fine motor control. All of the Smart Rehab tools harness the power of games for recovery. To learn more, call (888) 623-8984 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Lauren Sheehan, OTD, OTR/LLauren is an occupational therapist, adjunct professor, therapy community builder and product manager based out of San Francisco, CA. Lauren works as a Field Clinical Manager for Neurolutions.