26 September 2009

Amputees get Wii Fit

Amputees are using Nintendo Wii Fit equipment during training sessions as a way of improving their balance and stability.

Every Thursday patients from across the borough meet at Callaghan House in Heywood to go through a tailored exercise programme that improves their strength and stability after having an amputation.

Sharon Wright, Lead Physiotherapist for Amputee Rehabilitation, believes that using the Wii Fit has massive benefits for her patients. She said: “We work with patients for from four months to two years so it’s important that we find new ways of keeping them interested in their exercise and motivated to complete their training.

“After what has been a traumatic experience, the weekly sessions allow our patients to gain back some independence and meet others who know how they feel. Health professionals from the Manchester Disabled Services Centre (MDSC) also attend the sessions so patients don’t have to travel far for appointments, which can be difficult.”

Alan Carouthers, 71, from Rochdale, has been attending the sessions for five months. He said: “I first came with the hope of being able to walk again and started off doing lots of different exercises and physiotherapy. The Wii Fit is great. It is a challenge but using the slalom and football skills games has helped with my balance tremendously and of course it’s great fun.

“It’s really important to come to these sessions because you meet people who understand how you feel but can have a laugh at the same time. It has really built up my confidence and boosted my morale and I’ve been able to make some great friends.”

Heywood, Middleton and Rochdale Community Healthcare in conjunction with Rochdale Amputee Support Group purchased the Wii Fit equipment using a donation from charity Joining Hands for patients to use as part of their weekly exercise rehabilitation programme.

Help and support for amputees and their families can be found through the Greater Manchester Amputee Support Group, which was founded in 2004 by Malcolm Jones, from Rochdale. Malcolm founded the group after becoming an amputee himself and finding he needed more support. He said: “Having an amputation is a traumatic experience so it’s important that people have a support network once they leave hospital to help them and their families adjust.”

The group meets at Rochdale Infirmary on the second Tuesday of every month from 6:30pm in the Rochdale Infirmary outpatients waiting room.

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