New dolphin game may help stroke patients

Trials suggest this dolphin game might be better than conventional treatments.

Elizabeth Meade
8th November 2021
Image credits: YouTube
Have you ever wanted to be a dolphin? In a new game by MindMaze Healthcare, players utilize their arms to move a virtual dolphin, which creators believe may help stroke patients regain cognitive and motor skills. The game has recently been installed at The Royal Buckinghamshire Hospital--the first hospital in the UK to offer it as part of the MindPod platform.

Developed by Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine, the game utilizes movement and an immersive gaming environment to target stroke. Clinical trials suggest the game is equal to or better than conventional occupational therapy. Studies are also being undertaken to investigate whether the game would also be helpful to patients with traumatic brain injury, dementia and other neurological conditions.

Video Credit: MindMazeTech on YouTube

Gameplay involves moving Bandit the dolphin around the screen to eat fish, although an earlier version, released for the Apple TV in 2015, includes shark battles. The movements in the game are based on real-life sea creatures, which creators observed at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland.

Video Credit: App Unwrapper on YouTube

While the full therapeutic potential and limits of MindPod are not yet known, patients have certainly enjoyed the game. Looking at the bigger picture, this research may lead to this and similar neuroanimation projects becoming a more widespread treatment option for stroke patients.

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
(she/her) 4th year Chem student. Former Head of Current Affairs and Former Science Sub-Editor. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking. Wrote the first article for Puzzles. Probably the first Courier writer to have work featured in one of Justin Whang's videos.

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