Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Medical News: Multiple Benefits Seen for Exercise in Seniors - from MedPage Today

An article appearing in Medscape's Medical news Multiple Benefits Seen for Exercise in Seniors summarizes much of the evidence gathered about benefits of an active lifestyle. "Successful survival", defined as "living past 70 in general good physical and mental health", occurred more often in study participants who had a most active lifestyle during the period 10 to 15 years prior to 70 when compared to a cohort who had a most sedentary lifestyle during that same period.
Since encouraging regular physical activity in the most sedentary adults fosters long lasting benefits, healthcare providers as well as family and friends often hope to find ways to promote change.
Changing various health behaviors occurs through a process. Many theories of health behavior change offer insight into ways to maximize success for those attempting to alter behavior. One theory in particular, the Transtheoretical Model (Stages of Change), explains behavior change as a journey through various phases of awareness and action. Each phase leads to increased awareness of the need for change. Those along the journey of change gain confidence in their ability to make and maintain the desired modification.
Nintendo Wii activities play an important role as a fun way to bring exercise into an individual’s daily schedule. Individuals in the "pre-contemplation" stage, when exposed to activities in Wii Sports and Wii Fit, may increase their awareness of both their need for exercise and their need to improve endurance and balance. This awareness may help them move to the "contemplation" stage. Since Wii Sports and Wii Fit bring a fun factor into exercise, individuals may decide that moving more can be enjoyable. In fact, they may begin to view physical activity while using the Wii not as exercise but as just a fun activity, helping the individual move on to the "preparation for action" stage. Furthermore, Wii Fit activities provide great feedback and can be played together with others (two aspects of other theories of learning and change). As a result, individuals may begin to engage regularly in the use of Wii Sports and Wii Fit activities. Once these individuals are well entrenched in this "action" stage, the individual is well on their way to a less sedentary lifestyle.
Ford Vox, MD explains however, that activities offered through Nintendo Wii games should not be used as a replacement for the actual sport. But for those individuals who have a sedentary lifestyle, not participating regularly in any physical activity, Wii offers a motivating vehicle to change.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Dr. Ross Clark's Study Highlights Wii Fit Balance Board Benefits

Therapists as well as other staff working with the elderly recognize the threat falls carry for older adults. Falls often result in life altering changes including fractures, head injuries, and/or decreased self efficacy making continued independent living difficult for individuals who experience a fall. Volumes exist on this topic. Researchers (Tinetti, Lachman, Howland and many other authors) divide risk factors into two groups – extrinsic and intrinsic.

poor lighting
throw rugs
multiple medications
ill-fitting or
improper footwear

muscle weakness
balance problems
postural hypotension
decreased flexibility
cognitive impairment
vision impairment
fear of falling

Various post-fall therapeutic plans of care as well as fall prevention intervention programs aim to reduce fall risk by identifying and mitigating individual intrinsic and extrinsic fall risk factors.
Dr. Ross Clark of University of Melbourne conducted a study in which he utilized the Wii Balance Board as a tool for identifying center of balance, an important component of standing balance.

Take time to look at the list of fall risk factors. Can other risk factors be addressed using Wii activities? Of course! Post your experience for others to read.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Wii therapy in Columbus: From rehabilitation to special education

Dr. Tim Barrett writes for in Columbus, Ohio. Recently he posted an article explaining the many benefits of using Wii in therapy for a variety of problems. In this article, Dr. Barrett mentions Lon Thornburg. Lon's blog offers so much information to help therapists and families as they care for children with special needs. Robbie Winget, an occupational therapist also shares his enthusiasm about using Wii in therapy with Dr. Barrett.
Soon, this blog will give readers a chance to share their opinions and experiences using Nintendo Wii with those they care for. Keep following and when the survey posts take a little time to complete it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Funny Videos of Wii Injuries and Accidents

Mention of Wii injuries and accidents frequently occurs in this blog. Check out this collection of funny videos showing accidents as they happen. A clever occupational therapist could employ these videos during a therapy session with a goal of increased safety awareness, improved sequencing, or most any other cognitive focus. A therapist might have the client first review the Play It Safe checklist, second watch the videos and third discuss what unsafe practice led to the accident. Simple, yet effective! Another way to creatively incorporate Wii technology into your day to benefit your client with cognitive issues from TBI, stroke, PDD, Autism, Alzheimer's, and/or change of mental status to name a few. The concept of using Nintendo Wii in therapy, an approach known as WiiHab, Wii-Hab or Wiihabilitation, broadens!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Wii Purchases Bring Therapeutic Benefits Into Homes

New Wii Consoles flew off the shelves at retail outlets during the pre-holiday shopping sales. During one week in December, Walmart offered a $50 gift card for lucky customers who found Wiis in stock. So now many have a chance to experience Wii at home. In a UK paper an article explains ways to avoid injury when playing new games in the comfort of your own home.
New Wii owners, including those with chronic conditions express various ways they hope to use Wii in 2010. One Wii enthusiast with a spinal cord injury uses Wii to build arm strength. In an article entitled Wiiiiii!: Adaptive Exercise That’s Actually Fun the author offers good suggestions for therapeutic uses of Wii applications as well as suggestions for simple ways to make Wii applications more user friendly for this population.
New Wii owners with Multiple Sclerosis also recognize therapeutic value in Wii Sports and Wii Fit activities. Having Nintendo Wii in one's home allows the participant to pace themselves to avoid fatigue while playing many great games. Many Wii games increase flexibility and endurance.
Families with special needs children bought Wiis for home use. These families look forward to increased social interaction with their children. Social interaction in a safe environment may help improve social skills for these children. Wii activities offer opportunities for spontaneity; this area often challenges children with autism and other developmental delays. Also, during these cold winter months, the Wii offers an easy way to add more physical activity into a child's routine, providing an outlet for energy and the possibly of reducing negative behaviors such as tantrums.
While playing Wii participants need to follow safe practices to avoid injury. Players might also want to add wrist weights to increase the challenge. Parents might also want to speak with their child's occupational therapist for ideas for increasing challenge by altering positioning while playing certain Wii Sports activities.