Helen Mirren backs Wii for Parkinson's rehab treatment

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Dame-Helen-Mirren_0.jpgOscar winning actress Helen Mirren has backed a new study into the potential benefits of using Nintendo’s Wii gaming console as part of rehabilitation treatment for Parkinson’s sufferers.

Mirren, who has a good friend diagnosed with the disease as well as featuring in the current round of Nintendo adverts, welcomed the news that the Parkinson’s UK research group has awarded an innovation grant of nearly £35,000 to Dr Cathy Craig at the School of Psychology, Queen’s University Belfast, who aims to investigate the potential benefits of the Nintendo Wii for people with Parkinson’s.

Dr Craig said: “Our hope is to harness the benefits of the Wii technology to develop a system designed specifically for people with Parkinson’s. If the project is successful the benefits could be twofold. It could allow us to develop a simple way to assess Parkinson’s symptoms yet provide a safe and effective way for people with the condition to be more active and keep fit.”

The research looks to find whether or not the use of the Wii system can improve the physical abilities and lifestyle of people with Parkinson’s, and also whether the various games improve specific symptoms of Parkinson’s including tremors, slowness of movement and balance.

Karen Rose is a Parkinson’s sufferer, whos story is currently featured in a Wii TV advert. She said seems to think the Wii could have great potential as a treatment aid.

“Keeping moving is really important because of the stiffness. By doing the Wii I find that you loosen up the muscles that are constantly spasming, “she said.

“Most people with Parkinson’s find that they lose their confidence. So I tend to do exercise at home. I’ve got all the benefits of a gym, but I can do it to fit in with my lifestyle and my medication. It gives you a burst somehow, and it makes you feel better, and then you have a better day.”

Gerald Lynch