48 Days To Mt. Kilimanjaro – New “Gaming” Therapy Being Tested For Parkinson’s Patients

Patients living with Parkinson’s disease will soon have an opportunity to learn more about exercising and it benefits, with the release of a new gaming system designed specifically for those with the neurological disorder.

Fifty-two patients are currently participating in a clinical trial which involves using the exercise system that was created by Red Hill Systems and UCSF School of Nursing. The custom designed system uses physical therapy based programs to improve balance and movement in hopes of slowing the progression of PD. The system also incorporates different difficulty levels for its users which should help encourage it’s use, depending on where each person is with their skill level!

I have said it often, and I will repeat it again, there is so much being published about the positive effects of exercise in slowing the progression of the disease! I hope physicians, caregiver’s and patients are taking notice and becoming proactive in developing a healthy exercise program! In all the research I do, I see no other bits of information being published, that is available now, in the hands of patients, that may be slowing the progression of the disease outside of exercise.

If you know someone with Parkinson’s disease who is not currently exercising, I hope you will share some of the exciting information that you have read about it’s positive results! Pkp

Partnership to Showcase ‘Gaming Therapy’ for People With Parkinson’s Disease at Games for Health Conference
Red Hill Studios/UCSF

BOSTON, May 16, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Red Hill Studios, in partnership with the UCSF School of Nursing, will showcase a custom suite of Kinect™-based physical therapy games that have been specifically designed to help people with Parkinson’s slow the progression of this neurodegenerative disease. Sue Lifschiz, a woman with Parkinson’s, will demonstrate how the games provide a smooth progression of difficulty levels to meet the needs of a variety of different patients and encourage them to perform custom exercises designed to combat this progressive disease.

More than one million Americans wrestle with the impact of Parkinson’s disease with 50,000 new cases of the disease diagnosed every year. Recent research has shown that exercise may be able slow the progression of the disease and possibly halt its progress entirely.

Inspired by that research, Red Hill Studios and the UCSF School of Nursing have developed a set of Kinect-based physical therapy games designed to encourage people with Parkinson’s to have fun while they exercise. Red Hill specifically designed the games to elicit movements and gestures that the clinical team from UCSF had shown were beneficial for improving gait and balance in people with Parkinson’s disease.

“These games demonstrate the value of combining innovative health game designers with a top flight clinical team,” said Bob Hone, creative director of Red Hill Studios. “Creating games that are both fun to play and provide concrete medical benefits takes a special kind of team. We are much more than the sum of our parts.”

The Red Hill/UCSF team is currently conducting a randomized clinical trial of the physical therapy games with 52 patients to demonstrate their efficacy in improving patients’ gait and balance. During the trial, clinicians are tracking the progress of individual patients through a telemedicine link to the patients. Game results provide real-time proxy assessments of each patient’s progress and their evolving physical state. Hone will report some of the positive preliminary results from the study at the Games for Health Conference being held in Boston, May 17-19, 2011. The final results of the clinical trial will be released in early August.

Red Hill has also developed a custom ‘sensor suit’ that tracks patients’ movements with much higher resolution than either Microsoft Kinect or Nintendo Wii. The system relies on custom-built, 1″ long ‘tracking units’ that utilize low-cost accelerometers, gyroscopes, and a magnetometer to provide detailed data about the patient’s arms, legs, and torso. “The high resolution data makes it possible to track patients movements remotely in real-time,” said Hone. “This system could be used in a wide range of applications in addition to physical therapy games.”

Bob Hone and Sue Lifschiz will be presenting at the Games for Health Conference in Boston on May 18th at 4:40pm. They will be available for interviews on the 18th and 19th. To schedule an interview, please contact Senior Producer, Bill Dwyer (see contact info at bottom).

About Red Hill Studios
Red Hill Studios is an award winning serious games developer that creates interactive games for health, online science games, and immersive museum exhibitions. It also conducts research into new educational and health gaming paradigms.  Red Hill Studios is based in San Rafael, CA.

About UCSF
UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. The UCSF School of Nursing consistently is one of the top recipients of NIH funding in its field and ranks among the top nursing schools in the nation by “US News and World Report.”

About Games for Health
Founded in 2004, the Games for Health Project supports community, knowledge and business development efforts to use cutting-edge games and game technologies to improve health and health care. The project has brought together researchers, medical professionals and game developers to share information about the impact games and game technologies can have on health, health care and policy. The annual Games for Health Conference takes place over three days, with more than 400 and an international array of 80+ speakers.

About NIH
The National Institutes of Health, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the primary Federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. Helping to lead the way toward important medical discoveries that improve people’s health and save lives, NIH scientists investigate ways to prevent disease as well as the causes, treatments, and even cures for common and rare diseases. Composed of 27 Institutes and Centers, the NIH provides leadership and financial support to researchers in every state and throughout the world.
William Dwyer
Red Hill Studios
(415) 456-0440 x 115
(415) 225-5159 (cell)
E-mail: billd@redhillstudios.com
Web:   www.redhillstudios.com

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