Purdue University creating video game to help with Parkinson’s disease

Photo of researchers at Purdue University. (WISH Photo)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WISH) — Researchers at Purdue University have their hands on video games but not for the reason you may think.

They have created a video game to help people who suffer from Parkinson’s disease.

They hope the game will be a game changer for those who have the disease by targeting cognition and balance, two components greatly impacted by Parkinson’s.

Created by Purdue researchers, it is a game with a repurposed Wii board and set up like a game of Simon.

Gamers step on the board and have to repeat a sequence given and they have to do it by balancing and moving their body to get the cursor on the screen to move.

The goal is to retrain Parkinson’s patients to use balance and cognition at same time.

“We think that will help because in everyday life when people do motor tasks and have to do things and move around, they’re usually engaged in their cognition simultaneously,” said Jeff Haddad who is an associate professor in the department of Health and Kinesiology.

The process began about three years ago. They studied both older adults with and without the disease for eight weeks.

“The results were pretty positive. We did find a lot of their balance measures improved, a lot of the gait measures such as gait speed, improved,” Haddad added.

Josette Rolley has played this game before. She doesn’t have Parkinson’s disease but sees how it could be helpful.

“If I feel that it helped me then I can’t imagine it wouldn’t help someone with Parkinson’s. Both with the balance and the memory, cognitive things,” said Rolley.

Each year about 60,000 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed, according to the Parkinson’s Foundation.

Researchers hope that the game could be on the market within the next couple of years. They want it to be something that could be bought for the home and used anytime to help decrease the side effects of the disease.

“It’s a privilege to even be a part of a lab that has this goal to help people in their older years,” said research assistant Casie Blair.

They also want to develop an application where the data from the game could be transferred to a therapist to keep track of progress.

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