02 November 2008

Elders enjoy Nintendo Wii

"The original purpose was for an activity to give (residents) something to do and then once we had it, we realized the potential to use it for therapy as part of the rehabilitation program here," said Korey Flick, activities director.

Nintendo Wii is an interactive video game system, allowing players to "experience" golf, tennis and bowling, among other games.

"It was a good way for the staff to interact with the residents in a social and nonmedical way, which was good for everyone," Flick said. "We've tried golf and we've tried tennis. Bowling's the one that everyone's the most successful with. Generally on a Thursday we set it up for the day and the residents and the staff rotate."

Local nursing homes and health facilities throughout Schuylkill County are jumping on board the technology trend that they say helps residents with cognitive abilities and motor skills.

Nintendo Wii systems were also donated by Family Home Medical Support System of Mount Carmel, 121 E. Fifth St., to the Shamokin-Coal Township, Mount Carmel and Kulpmont senior action centers.

The Schuylkill Regional Resource Center, 138 W. Centre Street, Mahanoy City, hosts a "Wii Wednesday!" each week from 1 to 3 p.m.

Physical therapists at Genesis HealthCare Orwigsburg Center and Schuylkill Center, long- and short-term skilled nursing centers and rehabilitation facilities in Orwigsburg and Pottsville, are using Nintendo's Wii video game technology to help patients after an illness or injury.

"It's good cognitive activity to keep the mind active," said Amanda Schwalm, a speech language pathologist at Tremont Health and Rehabilitation Center "In that respect, it's working on your deductive reasoning skills, and that's a big part of what I do for short term to home (care.)"

When the Tremont Health and Rehabilitation Center -- a 180-bed skilled nursing facility for short-term and long-term care -- first got the system in August, the staff and residents split into teams, challenging each other and bringing a social layer to the work environment.

Kristy Deeter, an occupational therapist, said all residents have access to the system, adding that bowling is the game of choice for many.

"What it helps for people in therapy is, number one, they're getting some arm movements -- full range of motion," she said. "That movement's a natural movement for the arm, so I think that's why we've been more successful with that one."

"It builds up the muscles and it makes the brain think," resident Dave Wolfe said. "It's a lot cheaper than going to a bowling alley."

Wolfe shows up to the activities room each week to play. Facility administrator Dan Daub counts Wolfe among the "rowdy bunch," of cheering and excitable players.

"I used to do regular bowling, but this is a lot different," Wolfe said Tuesday, gearing up for his turn against resident Nancy Gibble. "Today I can't get a strike to save my soul."

But Wolfe spoke too soon, tossing a strike in his next shot.

Gibble bowled 130, saying she doesn't really care who wins, she just tries to do the best she can.

Is competition a factor in the virtual sport?

"There is to an extent, but it's mostly all in fun and trying to beat your score from the week before," Gibble said.

"It's kind of a growing trend and a unique way to get therapy done, so we're glad we could latch on to that," Daub said.

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