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.

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