Frivolous fun, brain-numbing time waster or inspiring rehabilitative tool, research is under way into whether video gaming can help both the mind and body.
A Wintec study is investigating whether Nintendo Wii's fitness and exercise games may help the elderly and stroke victims.
The gaming console's motion-sensitive hardware, as well as pressure boards measuring a person's weight and balance, means clients are able to develop and regain their motor skills through co-ordination exercises.
Dr Glynis Longhurst heads the study, and said the findings would be used to improve skill-related fitness by exploring the health benefits that Wii games can provide to different age groups.
“We're looking at a diverse population of clients: stroke victims, overweight people, children and people with injuries,” she said.
The testing will be conducted by a group of international students with backgrounds in physiotherapy.
“Each one of our students has a client that they will take through their own intervention programme.”
Student Daizy Tomar said using video games made therapy exciting and entertaining for the patients.
“If we give them programmes to do at home, a lot of them won't do it. Here we can watch them and they are clearly enjoying themselves,” she said.
Lyn Morgan, 67, said she was not really a computer person.
Ms Morgan had survived a cerebral vascular accident (CVA) or stroke, which often caused problems with her mobility, balance and breathing.
“I don't really know what to expect, but I'm sure with their guidance I'll be all right."
She said breathing techniques were important to her, as she was part of the Waikato Rivertones Chorus.
“We're travelling to compete in Denver later this year, so it would be good to get into shape with these exercises.”
- Waikato Times