While the recent study from the online journal Radiology seemed like every kid’s dream, it is most certainly set in reality. Namely, that playing “brain-training” video games may help improve some of the cognitive abilities for people dealing with multiple sclerosis. It does so by helping strengthen the neural connection inside the brain.
Research led by Laura De Giglio, MD, Ph.D., from the Department Neurology and Psychiatry at Sapienza University in Rome, focused on the effects of a video game-based rehabilitation program that focused on the thalamus. The thalamus is a structure in the middle of the brain that acts as an informational hub. A hub that manages connections and information between many different parts of the body. It is also a region that causes cognitive issues for those suffering from MS.
Twenty-four MS patients dealing with cognitive impairment were randomly assigned an eight week in a home-based rehabilitation program. The program consisted of 30-minute gaming sessions, five days a week. Patients were evaluated through cognitive tests and a 3-Tesla resting state functional MRI both before and after the program.
Impressively, 12 of the 24 patients in the video–game group showed significant increases in thalamic functionality. Specifically, in the areas corresponding to the posterior component of the brain’s default mode network. This is one of the most important brain networks of the brain.
Dr. De Giglio notes, “This increased connectivity reflections the fact that video gaming experience changed the mode of operating of certain brain structures. “ Further, she added, “This means that even a widespread and common use tool like video games can promote brain plasticity and can aid the cognitive rehabilitation for people for people with neurological diseases, such as multiple sclerosis.”
This development is a promising start and with further research and development additional strides are sure to follow. With additional hardware options such as the Apple Watch and Virtual Reality becoming more available, these digitally oriented rehab options are going to continue to be tested and implemented for those dealing with MS.
Do you play video games? Does this research encourage you to start?
Jeremy Reed is a big man, with a big heart. He has a knack for finding the funny in almost any situation, even when it’s not necessarily appropriate. He is constantly striving to keep the atmosphere light hearted and focused on making people as successful as they possibly can be. His goal is to entertain his readers with a simplistic view of the world. Read his blog Whistling While we Work.