Parkinson's UK has awarded a grant of £35,000 to Dr Cathy Craig at the School of Psychology, Queen's University Belfast, to investigate whether using a Wii can improve the physical abilities and lifestyle of people with Parkinson's, and how its games might improve specific symptoms of Parkinson's including tremor, slowness of movement and balance.

Oscar winning actress Helen Mirren is on board to back the study, after existing reports suggested that exercise could protect the nerve cells that are dying in Parkinson's and help them survive for longer.

A snap poll of people with Parkinson's revealed that 68 per cent felt that using the Wii helped them manage their symptoms. 30 per cent said that played on they Wii every day, with 39 per cent using it at least once a week.

Karen Rose, 47, a Parkinson's sufferer from Bristol said: "Keeping moving is really important because of the stiffness. By doing the Wii I find that you loosen up the muscles that are constantly spasming.

"Most people with Parkinson's find that they lose their confidence. So I tend to do exercise at home. I've got all the benefits of a gym, but I can do it to fit in with my lifestyle and my medication. It gives you a burst somehow, and it makes you feel better, and then you have a better day".

Dr Craig said: "Our hope is to harness the benefits of the Wii technology to develop a system designed specifically for people with Parkinson's. If the project is successful the benefits could be twofold. It could allow us to develop a simple way to assess Parkinson's symptoms yet provide a safe and effective way for people with the condition to be more active and keep fit".

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