Researchers from London Imperial College are using video games to improve mobility after suffering a stroke.
In a new report, the college says an inability to focus the brain on tasks may “partially explain why paralysis commonly occurs in people following a stroke”.
Previous research suggests that strokes, which occur when blood is blocked from reaching the brain, damage the network of neurons which relay signals to the spinal cord and muscles.
However, researchers suggest that there could be something else at work.
A video game was given to stroke patients to look further into the role of attention-control and strength and dexterity.
The study suggests that the ability to focus attention on a task is required for normal movements and that “at least a part of the paralysis from stroke may be due to poor attention-control in patients”.
“People have always separated out the physical from the mental, thinking that after brain damage you become physically weak, as well as mentally impaired,” said Paul Bentley, Clinical Senior Lecturer and Honorary Consultant Neurologist at Imperial, who led the research.
“What we’re doing is saying that these two elements are linked and that the mental aspect may explain at least part of the reason patients may be having physical problems.”