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The Healing Power of Guitar Hero

While the Nintendo Wii continues to garner headlines for its many alternative uses, an occupational therapist at the Select Specialty Hospital in Fort Wayne, Indiana is investigating the potential of Guitar Hero in physical rehabilitation.

Certified occupational therapy assistant Kelly Colwell first noted the healing potential of Guitar Hero while working with a patient who had injured his elbow and lost range of motion in his arm.

Doctors had told the patient that he would never regain full flexibility and rotation of his arm--motions that are heavily utilized when playing with Guitar Hero's plastic guitar.

"We'd been doing a lot with range of motion, but he was still lacking in pronation and supination in his forearm," Colwell informed Shacknews. Pronation and supination refer to the twisting and flexing motions of limbs. "Guitar Hero really helped out a lot with that, especially the supination because he had to hold that pose."

Apart from a patient's increased willingness to participate in therapy, other possible benefits of Guitar Hero noted by Colwell include improved abdominal, lower back, and wrist strength, sitting balance, fine motor skills, and general endurance.

"I hadn't [used video games in therapy] before, but I'll do it again," Colwell remarked.

"The gaming industry is just now becoming aware of the benefits their products can be provide in health care, but has yet to tap into its full potential," said chiropractor and licensed acupuncturist Steve Alter, who runs his own practice in Fort Wayne.

"Stroke victims in particular would really benefit from [a specialized video game]," Alter observed, explaining that software designed to stimulate both halves of the brain could aid in stroke recovery.