The Heart and Stroke Foundation is funding a study to determine whether video games are more effective than traditional therapy at rehabiliating stroke patients.
The study, taking place at Calgary's Foothills hospital, will measure whether video games can improve mobility and concentration compared to more traditional stroke therapies — like cards or building blocks.
"It helps keep people engaged," said Dr. Sean Duklow, who is in charge of the Calgary portion of the study. "Your friends can be involved, your family can be involved.... It's very encouraging when you have your family around cheering for you."
Doctors will study 160 stroke patients playing games, like bowling on Nintendo's Wii game console.
For many stroke patients, the experience is something entirely new.
"Rather than sitting up in my room, I can spend the time I need working on my Wii so I could get better and kick the butt of my grandchildren," said Art Cunningham, who is recovering from a stroke he had in April.
Strokes are mainly caused by the interruption of blood flow to the brain due to a blood clot.
According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, there are roughly 50,000 strokes in Canada each year.
Experts estimate strokes cost the Canadian economy $3.6 billion a year in physician services, hospital costs, lost wages and decreased productivity.