World of Warcraft for brain injuries


Could MMO multi-player online games provide cognitive therapeutic benefit to brain-injured people? A study published in the Journal of Assistive Technologies explored that question.  For those of you who don’t know, MMO stands for Massively Multiplayer Online game.  Think World of Warcraft or Modern Warfare or any other game you can have your friends play along.

Video games, such as Wii, are already in use in rehabilitation for people with brain injuries such as strokes.  This study explored the possible benefits of the use of MMO games in rehabilitation.  The study asked three brain-injured participants to log onto and play an online game at certain times over four weeks.  The study required that the participants log onto a MMO game at the same time and play for specified periods of time.   At the beginning of the experiment a baseline cognitive test was given.  The test was repeated at the end of each week.

The results were of the experiment were inconclusive.  

One of the problems with the experiment was that the participants were required to log on at the same time.  Participation logs showed that the patients did not always log on and play when they were supposed to.  If this research is continued, researchers could do one of two things: design the experiment so the participants don’t have to log on at the same time, or design the experiment so participants play in a controlled environment so researchers are sure that they are playing at the same time.  Another issue with this experiment was that it only included three participants.  This is likely necessary to help develop the protocol and figure out where the problems are (like the log-on issue), but it makes the results unreliable at this time.

I hope they continue with this research with more participants.  Brain injuries are a serious problem. Strokes, car accidents and illness can leave people with impaired brain-function.  While there are already therapies that help people recover from these tragic events, this research, if pursued, could show that MMO’s could be another form of rehabilitation available for use.  

Colman, J., Briggs, J., Turner, L., & Good, A. (2014). Investigating multi-player online video games for brain-injured people. Journal of Assistive Technologies,8(3), 124. Retrieved from

Leave a Reply