Improving executive function deficits by playing interactive video-games: Secondary analysis of a randomized controlled trial for individuals with chronic stroke

Clara Rozental-Iluz, Gabi Zeilig, Harold Weingarden, Debbie Rand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Executive function deficits negatively impact independence and participation in everyday life of individuals with chronic stroke. Therefore, it is important to explore therapeutic interventions to improve executive functions. AIM: The aim of this study was to determine the effectiveness of a 3-month interactive video-game group intervention compared to a traditional motor group intervention for improving executive functions in individuals with chronic stroke. Design: This study is a secondary analysis of a single-blind randomized controlled trial for improving factors related to physical activity of individuals with chronic stroke. Assessments were administered pre and post the intervention and at 3-month follow-up by assessors blind to treatment allocation. Methods: Thirty-nine individuals with chronic stroke with executive function deficits participated in an interactive video-game group intervention (N.=20) or a traditional group intervention (N.=19). The intervention included two 1-hour group sessions per week for three months, either playing video-games or performing traditional exercises/activities. Executive function deficits were assessed using The Trail Making Test (Parts A and B) and by two performance-based assessments; the Bill Paying Task from the Executive Function Performance Test (EFPT) and the Executive Function Route-Finding Task (EFRT). RESULTS: Following intervention, scores for the Bill Paying Task (EFPT) decreased by 27.5% and 36.6% for the participants in the videogame and traditional intervention, respectively (F=17.3, P<0.000) and continued to decrease in the video-game group with small effect sizes. Effect size was small to medium for the TMT-B (F=0.003, P=0.954) and EFRT (F=1.2, P=0.28), without any statistical significance difference. Conclusions: Interactive video-games provide combined cognitive-motor stimulation and therefore have potential to improve executive functioning of individuals with chronic stroke. Further research is needed. CLINICAL REHABILITATION IMPACT: These findings highlight the potential of utilizing interactive video-games in a small group for keeping these individuals active, while maintaining and improving executive functioning especially for individuals with chronic stroke, who have completed their formal rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)508-515
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Physical and Rehabilitation Medicine
Volume52
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2016

Keywords

  • Cognition
  • Neurological rehabilitation
  • Video games
  • Virtual reality exposure therapy

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