05 October 2008

Nintendo Wii As Therapy And Fun For Multiple Sclerosis

By Diana_T. De Avila
Diana T. De AvilaLevel: PlatinumI am a trained psychologist and received my MS. Ed from The College of Saint Rose in 1996. I spent 7 years in religious ... ...

At first blush, you may think that the title of this article is a far stretch! You may be wondering how a video game console could possibly do ANYTHING useful for a person dealing with a degenerative disease such as MS. If you give me a chance, I will share my own experience. I'll also let you know that I am NOT a video game junkie. In fact, I have never found most gaming systems intuitive enough for me. The Wii is different, I was able to start using it out of the box. It was built that way and created to be extremely user-friendly.
The objective of this article will be to look at the Nintendo Wii gaming system and it's utility for fostering and enhancing movement, flexibility, balance, and cognition (memory, multi-tasking, etc.)
Although this lens mentions MS (because that is my own personal experience and journey) there are probably many other health conditions that could benefit from the same things. I need to mention that I am NOT a physical or occupational therapist and I am NOT trained in rehab or physical medicine. This is simply my own personal experience and observation. If you have any questions or concerns, please discuss them with your doctor.
The Wii (pronounced as the pronoun "we") is the fifth home video game console released by Nintendo. A distinguishing feature of the console is its wireless controller, the Wii Remote, which can be used as a handheld pointing device and can detect motion and rotation in three dimensions.
Who knew that exercising could be so much fun? Once you buy a Wii Gaming system, it comes packaged with Sports which is enough to get you started and getting the hang of how the remote works and feels.
While I would never purport that the Wii gaming system could be traded for a Total Gym, Treadmill or Elliptical ... I could purport that with the right combination of games, a regimen could be developed that could offer movement and exercise to both the arms and the legs.
The Nintendo Wii comes pre-packaged with the game Sports. Sports is really 5 games in 1:
1. Golf
2. Boxing
3. Baseball
4. Tennis
5. Bowling
If you can get over the "anime" type of animation and characters -- you'll do fine. The images are bright and differentiated by both color and pattern (this will accommodate someone with optic nerve damage who might have some problems with colors). The characters are easily distinguishable by patterns such as stripes versus solids.
What I love so much about Wii Sports is that it offers something called a "Fitness Test". This fitness test can be performed at different times (no more than once a day). The test uses an algorithm to look at all levels of play from coordination, speed and accuracy. During the course of a "Fitness Test" you will be given tasks from the various sports (this could be boxing, bowling and golf). Once completed, an "age" is applied to you (20 years being the youngest). Over time, you can take the fitness test and watch your results. Have you grown younger or older? Really a nice part of the game.
The movements used by players playing Wii Sports (tennis for example) do not have to be perfect and could be performed from a sitting position with some practice. In my opinion, the value of exercise and movement is better accomplished when the Sports are played in as realistic a manner as possible. That said, I am not a doctor or physical therapist -- so this should be discussed with them to find the optimal type play for you.
There are also many different games that tap into various cognitive functions such as mental tracking and short-term memory. These facets are often affected in those with MS. Trauma Center: Second Opinion requires the use of recall to accomplish current tasks. Each level " surgical operation" builds on the last and the player must remember certain procedures in sequence. This game also requires the use of various fine-motor skills to accomplish surgical tasks.
Although barely touching the surface, there is a tremendous amount of value to having a game system like the Nintendo Wii to bring fun into a rehabilitative environment. There is no reason that exercising the brain and body does not have to be a fun and exciting experience.
Diana de Avila is a woman with Relapsing-Remitting MS who is retired but also enjoys Internet marketing.

If you enjoyed this article on the Wii, make sure to check out her http://www.wii-auctionsite.com/ where she offers eBay Video game auctions and more.

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