14 October 2008

Wii and Rehabilitation

Laura Schlobohm of Emporia enjoyed a game of bowling recently, cheering on her spares and attempting to coax the ball to hit the pins. Only Schlobohm wasn’t at a bowling alley. She was participating in Wii-habilitation and was one day from returning home from Newman Regional Health’s inpatient rehabilitation unit. The amazing thing: She had broken her hip just over two weeks earlier.

Part of Schlobohm’s rehabilitation exercises was to use the Nintendo Wii system, which is being used around the country not only for entertainment purposes but now for rehabilitation programs. The program is called Wii Fit and Wii Sport. The results are proven to speed up the rehabilitation process in patients who have had injuries or strokes, said Kim Bales, program director of Newman’s inpatient rehabilitation unit.

Bales said the whole purpose of inpatient rehabilitation is to get patients home and have them be as safe as possible when going home. The Wii system is another tool to work toward that goal. It’s now being used in several different wards for strengthening and balance.

Bales added that patients from 39 to 89 years old have enjoyed using the system. “Our average age is 79 that comes in (inpatient rehab) and they all love it (Wii).”

Dale Barb, a physical therapist at Newman, said there are many ways the Wii game system can be used in rehabilitation. Barb said the system helps patients practice tasks they will have to perform when they go home from the unit, including standing, balance and coordination.

The game helps patients stand longer and distracts them from the task at hand and gives them something fun to focus on, Barb explained as Schlobohm cheered in the background with her registered occupational therapist, Julia Gotchall.

“It’s fun,” Schlobohm said after she was done with her session. “I think it’s wonderful. It’s terrific exercise. It’s a wonderful program and the whole thing up here is wonderful.”

“My friends ask me if I can walk,” she said. “I said, ‘Run, no; walk, yes.”‘

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