15 May 2009

Rehabilitative Benefits of the Nintendo Wii

by Holly McCarthy on May 14, 2009
This is a guest post on the EasyStand Blog, contributed by Holly McCarthy, who writes on the subject of the sports management degree programs at an accredited university. She invites your feedback at hollymccarthy12 at gmail dot com.

Kids and Adults with disabilities can benefit from recieve rehabilitative benefits from playing Wii, besides having fun!

The Nintendo Wii has been one of the most popular game systems this decade and has even been used in rehabilitative applications for people coping with a variety of ailments. A little over a year ago doctors in Canada thought of using the system, which had been used as entertainment for young spinal cord injury recovering patients, and as therapy for patients after strokes.
What they began to realize is that this system, the Nintendo Wii, could be just what is needed to help with rehabilitation because of its ease of use and friendly interface. There are several benefits of using the Wii in rehabilitative treatments (commonly termed at Wii-hab), a few of which will be explored below.
Balance - Whether the patient is standing or sitting in a wheelchair, the controllers used to play the Wii console require balance and proper form for the best results. Using a standing frame while playing Wii can promote movement while standing, which research has shown to improve bone mineral density and strengthening.
Hand-Eye Coordination - Over time, hand-eye coordination improves through the use of video games. This is especially true of the Wii since the players’ movements are mimicked on the screen.
Entertainment - Therapy becomes more enjoyable when put in the context of a game. People who use a standing frame for Physical or Occupational Therapy can prolong their standing time by “multi-tasking” by playing Wii.
Competitive Spirit - The competitive spirit in patients who may not otherwise be able to compete is awakened. This can be great for increasing social skills as well as self-esteem.
Extension of Therapy to Home ­- While many things that are found in a therapists office are far too cost-prohibitive to be kept at home, the Wii is an affordable method of treatment that can be taken beyond the office and into the home for around $250. Additionally, friends and family can play along and join in the fun.
Helps With Memory, Problem Solving, and Decision Making Skills - All of these skills are honed through the use of video games according to studies, which may or may not be good news for parents. Playing sophisticated games helps with short-term, long-term, and muscle memory. Strategic games require problem solving and decision making skills, all of which help to enhance the experience.
The Nintendo Wii is finding enthusiasts of many abilities these days. Games and hardware have made participating in many activities from the comfort of your own home possible with a small price tag that can bring benefits to those in and out of rehabilitation care.
Have you used the Nintendo Wii for rehab or fun? What games have you enjoyed the most?

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