Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wii Therapy - For War Vets and Burn Victims

On Saturday, March 27, 2010, over 30 therapists attended Stockton College's Seminar: Wii-Hab - Using Nintendo Wii in a Therapeutic Setting. Everyone who participated went away with new ideas for their setting.
One participant asked a great question about configuring the Wii Fit balance board for amputees. The questioning therapist wondered if the Wii Fit balance board would configure properly if the one on the board wore a prosthesis. The answer was yes, since the balance board responds to pressure applied it.
Many war veterans must learn to walk again using prosthetic limbs and games offered using Wii Fit help speed their recovery. A fellow soldier and his wife are working hard to help wounded vets gain access to this valuable tool. According to an article appearing online at, "Air Force Staff Sargent David Flowers and his wife founded Wii's for Warriors, a group that gives away free Nintendo Wii Fit to amputees at Walter Reed."
Seminar attendees also learned about the value of games like the ones available through Wii applications for burn victims. At a hospital in New York City, a study is underway to assess if burn victims improve more quickly using a Nintendo Wii game in therapy or traditional cooking activities.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Easy Reference Chart: Use of Nintendo Wii in Occupational Therapy

In October 2008 ADVANCE FOR OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY published a chart highlighting Use of Wii Sports games for various therapy uses. I developed this chart as a precursor to the Wii-Hab Workshop. Since that date, many OT and PT students, with the help and guidance of faculty and mentors have developed research projects aiming to determine the therapeutic value of Wii or other video gaming systems. Last year, a student from Keuka College surveyed therapists about their use of Wii in therapy. This year a group of Danish students contacted this blog looking for help in finding articles supporting the use of Wii as a therapeutic tool. OT programs in the United States are also gathering and reporting Wii related data. PTs as well are busy adding to the knowledge and building proof that activities offered through Nintendo Wii programs help improve outcomes.
In April, The AOTA 90th Conference and Expo will feature at least 11 sessions related to using Wii in therapy.
Next weekend the Wii-Hab Workshop at Stockton College, Pamona, NJ is filled, but Anne Arundel Community College in Annapolis, Maryland still has space for the April 10th seminar. Penn State Abington is still accepting registration. Speak to the continuing education department about available discounts.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Intergenerational Value: Wii for Fun - Therapy in Itself

A child who visits his Grandma in an assisted living facility decides the residents need a bit of excitement. He raised funds and purchased a Wii system for that facility. Now the residents keep themselves busy with bowling and baseball.
In my workshops, therapists hear about ideas for finding funds to help them bring the benefits of Wii into their facilities. Just recently, the executive director of Twilight Wish Foundation spoke at a meeting I attended. She suggested that perhaps her organization could work with community groups, such as Little League Teams or other sports organizations, interested in helping to purchase Wiis for elders in group living arrangements. This idea promotes interaction between generations and communities.
The intergenerational benefits the Wii brings benefits not only to grandparents and young children but also to parents and children with special needs. The Wii provides a great tool for parents who strive to help their children who struggle with sensory integrative issues, social issues as well as motor challenges.
One motor skill that families can address using the Wii is balance. Challenge the child's balance skills by playing games they love while placing them in creative positions. Since many Wii games can be played while standing or sitting, Wii provides an activity many are able to enjoy. Whether for therapy or fun, Wii provides a way for members of various generations to interact, improving quality of life for each participant.