Friday, February 26, 2010

Canadian Researchers Demonstrate Efficacy of Wii-Hab Following Stroke

The American Heart Association held the 2010 International Stroke Conference in San Antonio, Texas, February 24 - 26, 2010. The results of a study led by Gustavo Saposnik, MD and conducted at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto were presented. This poster presentation explained the objective of this study as " to evaluate feasibility, safety, and efficacy of VR using Nintendo Wii gaming technology on motor function during stroke rehab." Readers may view the abstract of this poster beginning on page 3 of this link.
The outcome of this research is detailed in the chart accompanying the abstract found at that link.
Several news writers have summarized the results. In the Bloomberg Businessweek summary, Dr. Saposnik is quoted as saying, "Basically, we found that Wii therapy produced a 30 percent better improvement than recreational therapy in the time it took for the Wii patients to execute a task, and in how well they were able to execute a task."
In this study, the group assigned to recreational therapy preformed activities such as playing with cards and manipulating blocks in the game 'JENGA'. The intervention group participated in Wii activities including Wii Sports tennis and Wii Cooking Mama tasks.
Those participants in the intervention group demonstrated that "VR using Wii is a novel, safe and feasible strategy to facilitate motor function after sroke."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Nintendo Wii for Fun and for Therapy: Sign up for a Spring Workshop

Regulars at the Los Altos Hillview Recreation Center in California's Silicon Valley now find Wii games engaging and entertaining. The center’s director purchased the Wii with grant funds back in 2008, but the system stayed on the shelf until a volunteer dusted it off and put it into play. A local real estate broker and attorney brought her enthusiasm and expertise to the center, teaching many how to bowl or how to complete a successful ski jump. Watch the video to see these folks in action.
This video provides a great example of using Wii for fun while giving therapists an opportunity to look for ways to change the experience, making it a therapeutic session. First, notice that neither player follows one of the most basic “play it safe” rules. Always use the wrist strap and non-skid remote cover to reduce the risk of a flying remote. Second, in a therapeutic setting, warm-up stretches, passive range of motion or flexibility activities should precede the engagement in Wii activities. Also, during the video, the lady bowler indicates that she feels fatigue or slight strain in her arm following a few frames. A therapist would monitor a player, making sure not only to avoid overuse but also to apply ice if the participant feels fatigue or pain.

Another thing a therapist might do to increase the therapeutic value of Wii would be teach pursed-lip breathing and cue the participant in the proper use of this breathing technique during the activity. One might even print out the patient education sheet and give the sheet to the patient. The information on the handout will help both the patient and family members fully understand the technique for pursed-lip breathing and the importance of using this breathing technique during activities of daily living.

Wii offers endless opportunities for strengthening targeted muscle groups, challenging cognition, improving coordination, increasing endurance, and building confidence.
Therapists wanting to gain more experience with using Nintendo Wii in therapy may attend one of the Wii-hab workshops scheduled for this spring. On March 27, 2010 Stockton College in Pomona, NJ will be the host.

On April 10, 2010, Anne Arundel Community College is offering this workshop. The class will be held at the Arundel Mills Campus bringing this great opportunity to therapists from the Washington Baltrimore area.
To sign up, contact Continuing Education by phone at 410-777-2325 or email at

And on May 1, 2010 Penn State University Abington Campus will sponsor this workshop. Occupational, physical, and speech therapists as well as hospital administrators and nurses working in rehabilitation from both the Delaware and Lehigh Valley areas will find the Penn State Abington Campus a convenient location.