Get your game on: new study highlights the role of gaming in the war against post-stroke depression

February 5, 2018

It’s no secret that rehabilitation following a stroke is tough. Depression can cloud the road to recovery. Up to this point, depression required the intervention of a professional therapist with a personalized (and costly) approach to treatment.

Well, for those of you who are walking that road, a new study might help lift some of those clouds. According to a group of researchers in The Netherlands, the answer might not just be in how hard you work at your recovery, but also in how hard you play. The group had a simple idea. Participants could alleviate depression and anxiety associated with post-stroke recovery through using computer training programs. Additionally, they could improve their overall quality of life using these cognitive training programs that target attention and memory.   

Computer training as post-stroke rehabilitation

As it turns out, the idea worked. Using a computer-based program was effective in battling post-stroke depression. It was just as effective as personalized cognitive behavioral therapy (a type of psychotherapy that challenges negative patterns of thought). While further studies are needed to determine just how valuable gaming could be in fighting post-stroke depression, and indeed whether cognitive behavioral therapy itself is of any significant value to a patient’s quality of life during recovery from a stroke, one thing is clear from the study — when it comes to helping yourself, it can’t hurt to get your game on.

The Dutch study used a specialized program. However, cognitive gaming isn’t restricted to researchers and pay-by-the-hour therapists. A number of similar (and often free) applications are available online at websites such as

And what’s more, some of these games are created in cooperation with leading international research institutes. So, there is some hard science behind the gaming. Why not make the road to recovery a little more interesting with online gaming? It’s cheaper than a shrink, and could be a whole lot more fun!


The leading author of the publication is Dr. Kootker from the Department of Rehabilitation, Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

What you can do with this information

Editorial note:

This study shows that training with a PC can lead to results comparable to a well-established psychological therapy. Since the market of online tools and apps for depression and cognition is growing, it could be worthwhile checking them out.

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