While most people turn to their Nintendo Wii for family fun or a game of Super Mario Galaxy, more and more physical therapists are turning to the popular gaming console for its rehabilitative purposes. In particular, therapists are using the Wii Fit program to help victims of brain injury recover with a more fun routine and to help end the monotony of traditional rehabilitation programs.
Increasingly known as ‘Wii-hab,’ the incorporation of the Nintendo Wii into brain injury rehabilitation has taken advantage of the basic functions of the interactive joystick, as well as the body’s basic motions. As was intended by the creation of the Wii Fit program, the regular Wii user receives quite the workout from the program’s software and special interactive equipment. However, for rehabilitative purposes, a person recovering from brain or spinal injuries using the equipment can find considerably more benefit among the game’s simplicities.
For instance, just using the joystick’s buttons assists with the recovery of a patient’s basic motor skills. Making a routine of pressing buttons and flicking the wrist is not only fun for the person in recovery, but it also assists with recovery of regular motion and action in the fingers, hands, and lower arms. In other Wii sports games ‘“ such as bowling, tennis, baseball, golf, etc. ‘“ the motion of the joystick can help restore ranges of motion in the arms and legs. For the more advanced rehabilitation, newer games like Wii Fit Plus adds elements of balance, strength conditioning, stretching, aerobics, and yoga, as well as the traditional games and workouts.
Wii-hab ‘“ or Waggle Therapy as it is also known ‘“ continues to grow as a popular source for brain and spinal injury rehabilitation, and it is currently being utilized for its positive encouragement and therapeutic purposes in cases of stroke, motor vehicle accident, combat wounds, and even Parkinson’s disease.