Monday, September 22, 2014

Video Games Can Improve MS Symptoms

Games are fun! Games that help to improve our cognitive skills, manual dexterity, physical abilities, problem-solving skills, creativity, and overall brain health work to keep us flexible in many more ways than one. In our recent discussion of mobile device applications, I didn’t include many games; but there are some great offerings.

Did you know that crossword puzzles help word finding skills, but not memory? Aerobic exercise helps to improve physical fitness and keeps the brain healthier through increased blood flow, which does help to improve memory. Studies have shown that aerobic fitness is associated with healthier gray and white brain matter which helps to reduce long-term disability in MS (Prakash, 2010).

Physical therapy (PT), often combining strength training and flexibility, cardiovascular and endurance exercise, as well as balance and gait training, is a mainstay of treatment for people with multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders. I can attest that the benefits of PT can be significant and long lasting, but sometimes continuing physical therapy exercise on your own can be less than exciting. As a result, compliance to exercise programs can be difficult even when the benefits are tangible (Mostert, 2002).

Physical therapy can also improve neurological function through neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity, that works as an adaptive mechanism to compensate for lost functions in the event of brain injury or trauma. Neuroplasticity, however, is not a static phenomenon; it changes as different types of plasticity are more active or less prevalent during a person’s lifetime.

At the time I was finally diagnosed with MS, I had lost use of my left hand, arm, and several fingers. During four months of intense physical/occupational therapy, my therapist guided me through very specific and targeted activities and exercises aimed at creating new neural pathways between my hand and my brain in order to regain lost function. She described it as creating a detour and making the detour the permanent road for the electrical messages. That is one form of neuroplasticity.

Read this post in its entirety:
Better Balance and Brain Connections Through Playing Video Games

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