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What ’Wii’ Can Do For You

Originally Posted: April 30, 2010

Frank Lombardi

Nintendo Wii has been used for therapeutic purposes. (paprikalab.com)

Manorville - Like many parents, I enjoy playing video games on the Nintendo Wii with my children. The Wii has given my family many hours of enjoyment but the Wii has developed into something more than just another video game.

Wii Therapy
Many hospitals and other organizations that provide physical therapy programs to their patients have discovered that the Wii can be incorporated into a patient's existing physical therapy regimen. According to Don Carey-Shaw, Physical Therapy Coordinator for IGHL, "Wii therapy has allowed us to enhance our treatment by encouraging people to use their bodies to perform activities with therapeutic benefit while having fun!"

So how does it work? The Wii uses a wireless remote controller that detects movements in three dimensions. When players use the remote like a piece of sports equipment like a baseball bat, they can swing it like a real bat. The result is that they feel like they're actually hitting the ball.

Take a child who dreams of playing baseball someday but who is disabled and confined to a wheelchair. Sit them in front of the Wii and you will experience the excitement of someone having one of their dreams come true!

Just as important are the therapeutic benefits that child will experience which include a wider range of motion and increased aerobic activity. The Wii offers children and adults who are disabled, especially those confined to a wheelchair, the opportunity to participate in many activities such as baseball, golf, bowling, and even boxing. It gives them confidence in their own abilities and allows them to enjoy many different activities that they may have been unable to previously.

Last year Nintendo introduced the Wii Fit, which is basically a virtual reality fitness program. For many disabled people the Wii Fit offers additional advantages that can be part of their physical therapy. Like many of the other Wii games, the Wii Fit provides an opportunity to develop skills and learn new movements but it can also help develop balance, movement, motor skills development, and interaction with other people.

The Wii Fit uses a balance pad that the player stands on to participate in activity categories such as strength training, aerobics, yoga and balance games. These activities help the player to perform gentle exercise as part of their therapy and improve their overall health.

The therapeutic benefits of the Nintendo Wii are a unique by-product of a system designed purely for entertainment. It has allowed millions of disabled people around the world the opportunity to enjoy a multitude of new activities while developing new movement skills and abilities. It has also allowed them to have some fun again!

Not only can the Wii help people who have some sort of disability, it can help everyone whether they want to shed a few pounds, recover from an injury, or just need a mental escape from the grinds of daily life.

Here are some things to consider before you run out and buy a Wii:

 • Consult your doctor to ensure that it is safe for you to engage in any physical activity.
 • Warm up and stretch beforehand to avoid injury.
 • Ease into an activity you are not used to.
 • Stop playing if you become too tired or your muscles become sore.
 • Hang on to that remote! Use the wrist strap to avoid having the remote fly out of your hand.

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