Stroke patients at City Hospital, in Winson Green, Birmingham, are using a Nintendo Wii to help their recovery.

Medics have discovered that the console helps to strengthen limbs and have them moving again. Patients on Ward D43 have made startling improvements after playing tennis and bowling with the console as an alternative to using parallel exercise bars.

“Using the Wii is safe for the patients and it also accesses certain parts of the central nervous system,” Peter Harding, consultant physiotherapist, said.

A stroke is when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, causing brain cells to be damaged. If a victim survives they are often left with devastating paralysis or unable to speak or move limbs properly because the brain controls everything from movement to how we communicate, think and feel.

A third who have a stroke are left with disabilities and more than 300,000 are living with moderate to severe disabilities as a result of stroke. Traditional physiotherapy has been the main tactic commonly used by hospitals.

“Previously we used a mirror in front of patients but this is more interesting,” advanced physiotherapist Cameron Lindsay said. “It gets the patients more involved and offers instant feedback.

“Tennis and bowling are the main games we’ve been using and it’s amazing how fast people pick it up. Within five minutes they’ve got the hang of it.”

The hospital has had the Wii since December and patient Alan Perkins has been using the game console since it was introduced. It has made a dramatic difference to his well-being. “It is my left-hand side I have problems with, so they got me using my left hand and it’s brilliant,” he said. “It’s great for my hips and it got me off the bars.”

An estimated 150,000 have a stroke in the UK every year. Stroke is the third most common cause of death in England and Wales, after heart disease and cancer, with 67,000-plus deaths due to it.

Elderly people’s homes across the region have started using Nintendo Wii games to help residents keep fit.