Video poker machines are scatted all over Las Vegas. No matter where you are, you’ll probably see one, or are within close reach of one. Not wanting to miss out, even hospitals, well, one hospital is getting in on the action.
Fox News reported earlier in the week that a rehab center in Las Vegas has installed 2 video poker machines for a distinctively different purpose than that of all the other video poker machines around Sin City; to help stroke patients and those with other maladies regain their muscle motor skills.
“Gambling Stimulates the Prefrontal Cortex”
“What we know about gambling is that it stimulates the prefrontal cortex and that’s an area of the brain that can be damaged in a traumatic brain injury,” Sarah Tempest, a speech pathologist at the facility, told Fox News.
Tempest goes on to say that this type of stimulation to the prefrontal cortex can help patients with attention, working memory, problem-solving and impulse control.
The machines are identical to the ones found at gambling strips, with one difference being that real money is not used for these ones. Each patient is restricted to playing 15 minutes per session. Patients without cognitive impairments can still benefit from this therapy as it’ll help with movement and endurance.
When In Rome
In a city known as the The Gambling Capital of the World, the idea to use Video Poker as a rehabilitation device is creative, but not surprising. For residents and visitors, gambling is a way of life in Las Vegas. Patients are familiar with these machines, and see them as entertainment devices rather than a strict therapy instrument. This helps the patients to relax, and hopefully can lead to greater success.
FoxNews Doctor Suggests Caution
Not everyone is fully on board with such treatments. Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and Fox News contributor, voiced his concerns about potential gambling addiction as a result of using such methods.
“It’s very important for the clinicians to tell the patients if they’re going to pursue this path, keep in mind you might have impulse control problems,” said Dr. Keith Ablow
No one truly knows how effective this treatment will be. But in regards to gambling addiction, it is unlikely for these particular groups of patients; especially since each session are limited to 15 minutes and real money is not used. In essence, it’s no different than playing any other form of video entertainment.