Thursday, July 30, 2009

Reports of Injuries from Wii Sports and Wii Fit

Whenever a certain colleague of mine mentions the Wii, talk of fear of injuries to players creeps into the conversation. An article appeared recently in the New York Times entitled, More Wii Warriors are Playing Hurt. Readers find references to strains and sprains as well as rotator cuff tears and knee injuries. This article suggests that Wii related injuries are increasing along with the popularity of the Wii gaming system, itself. In the therapeutic setting, I have not had any experience with patients adding to their injuries or pain using the Wii, because we are very careful to follow the"Play It Safe" (for Wii Sports) suggestions while working with patients. Earlier this summer though, I met someone who had broken his toe playing the Wii. Aaron Martin, a delightful and inspiring speaker, known best as the face of BASSEDGE, related the story of how he broke his toe playing a Wii game with friends. He hit his foot on a chair as he lunged to make the play. A reminder ofPoint # 4 from the "Play it Safe" sheet may have helped Aaron avoid that injury.

Although reports fill the internet of Wii related injuries to players and equipment, many more reports tout the benefits of using the Wii. Any activity can result in injury if the participant over-indulges or disregards safe practices. Using Wii Fit in therapy requires additional safety measures to insure against potential falls, especially when using this tool to improve balance and encourage weight-shifting in an elderly population. Safe use of therapeutic tools is common sense and usual practice for therapists. I always remind my colleague that stories of Wii injuries relate to public use of the gaming system, not to the supervised use of Wii as a therapeutic tool for Wii-hab.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Using Nintendo Wii in Therapy: Benefits Seen Over Time

WiiHab - Rehabilitative Therapy Using the Wii by the "Wii OT” has been up and running for over a year now. Thank you for all of your visits and emails. So many people have responded to my blog. Not only have other occupational and physical therapists and students sent emails and responses but also family members whose loved ones are recovering from TBI, stroke or joint replacement and are benefiting from using Nintendo Wii have contacted me from time to time. And these responses have come from many states like Pennsylvania and Georgia and from countries far and near to the USA like England, Sweden and Canada. The use of Nintendo Wii as a therapeutic tool continues to spread, while therapists, researchers, and patients alike continue to recognize the advantages of including this tool in plans of care.
Just the other day, another article appeared in print and online about the benefits of using Nintendo Wii to help people recover from injury, illness and surgery. This article highlights 2 important points. First, mention is made that Wii offers an opportunity for socialization, helping reduce feelings of isolation. Second, this overview states that using the Wii is fun. Bringing fun into therapy helps patients who are dealing with a changing health status to reduce feelings of anxiety. Learning to use adaptive devices or learning to do familiar things in new ways is easier when feelings of isolation and anxiety are reduced. Reducing feelings of isolation and anxiety is such an important part of therapy.
So again, thank you for your support. Post your experiences in the comments section for all to see.