Like many rehabilitation center across the U.S., Heartland of Oregon has incorporated Nintendo Wii, an interactive video game, into its rehabilitation program.
Patients recovering from surgery, illness or injury can use the game to improve skills such as strength, balance, range of motion, weight shifting and reaction time, according to Marie Perring, admissions director.
Not only does the Wii provide physical benefits to rehabilitation, it keeps patients focused mentally on their goals, according to Valerie Abood, director of rehabilitation. “Patients have fun when they come for rehabilitation and look forward to the task ahead, thanks to the Wii,” she said. “Many patients request the Wii as part of their rehabilitation. While traditional exercises are still a part of the patients’ recovery process, the Wii reduces the monotony of the routines and is exciting and mentally stimulating.”
The Wii is operated by a motion-sensitive controller that requires a patient to move his or her body in ways similar to that of the actual activity and similar to traditional therapy exercises. The games available incorporate some favorite pastimes such as golf, baseball, tennis, bowling and trivia, and can be played from the sitting or standing position. Each of these activities requires the use of different muscles and skills, thus providing patients with a wide range of rehabilitation opportunities.
For example, the motion used in bowling with the Wii increases upper extremity range of motion as well as hand-eye coordination needed to complete daily activities such as cooking or baking. The tennis game offers many of the same benefits of bowling, but also allows patients to improve reaction time and both sitting and standing balance. Boxing can improve strength and aerobic capacity needed to get through a normal day.
While there is no scientific proof that the Nintendo Wii is beneficial in rehabilitation, Heartland of Oregon has seen signs of improvement both physically and mentally in patients. Other added benefits include that patients and families seem more engaged in the recovery process, and there are opportunities for group therapy, which promotes healthy competitiveness among patients and allows for socialization.
Heartland of Oregon is part of HCR ManorCare, a leading provider of short-term post-acute services and long-term care. For more information about Heartland of Oregon, call 419-698-4521.