Sunday, 14 October 2012

Wiihab Study Day - 9th November 2012 - London


The Wiihab study day and workshop is now just around the corner.  It aims to share ideas as to how the Nintendo Wii is being used within therapy and to create a forum through which best practice and research can be shared.

The workshop will be held at the CSP - Bedford Row, London on Friday the 9th November 2012 and will be an all day event.

It is primarily for therapists who already use (or are trying to use) the Wii clinically, this day aims to provide an opportunity to identify ‘best practice’.

Please following the link below for details regarding the itinerary and how to secure your place.


Any questions please email


With thanks to Brunel University, London.

Monday, 16 July 2012

UK - Nintendo Wii use in Therapy - Workshop Information - Nov 9th 2012

This form is for those interested in attending a workshop to share ideas as to how the Nintendo Wii is being used within therapy and to create a forum through which best practice and research can be shared.

The workshop will be held at the CSP - Bedford Row, London on Friday the 9th November 2012 and will be an all day event.

For therapists who already use (or are trying to use) the Wii clinically, this day aims to provide an opportunity to identify ‘best practice’.

Please click on the link below for information about the workshop and registration


Thank you

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

How Wii-habilitation can get Patients on the Road to Recovery.


Many techniques are used in the rehabilitation of patients. Some, as you might expect, are more traditional and commonplace than others. However, did you know that some NHS health trusts are now using the Nintendo Wii to assist in the care of patients recovering from fractures, strokes and other brain injuries?

It may sound a little unconventional, but the hand-eye coordination, concentration and movement involved in playing Wii games are all hugely effective in helping rebuild muscle memory and other cognitive skills. As the road to recovery can be lengthy for some, it’s important to incorporate a number of rehabilitative exercises that will help patients to regain their strength. By making these activities varied, accessible and even entertaining, many believe that they can speed up the process.

This is certainly the theory behind the Nintendo Wii initiative.

The variable movements allow for a gradual rehabilitation within the home. As a result, this is convenient for both the patient and the healthcare professionals looking after them. After all, with a Wii, you can play anywhere (as long as there is a television) and at any time. Whilst it’s important that usage is monitored and restricted in cases where damage may be done, it’s a more engaging and entertaining method of recuperation.

This is certainly the view of the Birmingham Community Healthcare trust, which has been using the Nintendo Wii as a part of its patients’ rehabilitation for a number of months. Using games like Wii Sports and Wii Fit, helps to build strength, mental agility and can also be a distraction from the often painful recovery process.

One of the many benefits of using the Nintendo for “Wii-habilitation” is that the user can control the level of movement. If unable to swing arms or move about fully, patients can simply use cursors or select a less strenuous game. Equally, it’s easy to track individual progress. As the body recovers, it should become easier to perform certain activities, which will be reflected in the level of difficulty and ability to score.

Consequently, people can assign targets and build confidence without having to leave the house. Alastair Gordon, an Occupational Therapist that works closely with Birmingham Community Healthcare and a wide range of patients, explains why the Wii has become a vital part of the treatment process; "There are many techniques which clinicians use while helping patients, but 'Wii-habilitation' certainly bring some fun and enjoyment to the day-to-day activities which help patients on their road to recovery."

This element of fun is a key part of the process. Rehabilitation from serious injuries and strokes is time consuming, frustrating and sometimes painful. Therefore having an activity that patients can look forward to and engage with is a great alternative for community healthcare officials when dealing with patients. Combined with other exercises, it can have a profound effect on the speed and success of rehabilitation.


This post was provided by the Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust. For more information about patient recovery, please visit their website.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Saturday, 19 May 2012

OTs Wii too

The vast majority of emails, queries or comments received through the Wiihabilitation are either members of the public or physiotherapists.  A handful of Occupational Therapists have been in touch and it would be inaccurate not to acknowledge them.  The website is written by a physiotherapist, so perhaps doesn't focus on the functional/occupational tasks that OTs work towards.  It is not a criticism of the OT profession that there use of the Nintendo Wii is less published- their roles are diverse and can easily be fulfilled without the aid of technology.

There is no doubt that there are a good number of OTs who use the Nintendo Wii regularly within their practice to help people develop hand function skills, cognitive abilities, perception or sequencing skills. Their work is difficult to find without a

The links below show case some work carried out by OTs and their work with the Nintendo Wii.  If you know of other work, please add using the comments box below to share with other readers.

Occupational Therapy case study (2008)

Use of the Nintendo Wii in Occupational Therapy (2008)

Wii OT blog site (regularly updated)

Using the Nintendo Wii in Occupational Therapy (2010)

Wii-HAB: Using the Wii Video Game System as an Occupational Therapy Intervention with Patients in the Hospital Setting (2010)

OCCUPATIONAL THERAPISTS UNITE: WIIHABILITATION IS MORE FUN THAN PRESCRIBED EXERCISES! (2008)

From reading any of the blogs, articles or websites above, the similarities between OT and physio is all too apparent.  It only goes to prove how closely related the professions are in their aims to promote movement and independence.  The information available for Occupational Therapists is as valuable to physiotherapists as the physiotherapy information is for Occupational Therapists.  The research found listed within this blog can be applied to an movement based therapy and provides a growing library of evidence reporting the Nintendo Wii's value within therapy in general.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Wii Game Box Inlay - summary for quick therapy reference

Through using the Nintendo Wii at work I am aware that whilst I can navigate around the games with ease and from memory many of my colleagues don't have the same level of familiarity and therefore struggle to choose appropriate games.  This either causes the set up of the console and game lengthy or it leads them to abandon the idea of using the console for a more conventional therapeutic activity.

To try and assist I created a template that I have summarised individual games and then print out.  The information then fits within the game sleeve and is viewable as a quick reference - listing the most common/most beneficial games for therapy.



You can find a word document to download with two examples of the Wii game prompts here.  If you feel they are beneficial and have a particular game that you want to use it with please feel free to email me, as I may have it already written up and formatted.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Wiihabilitation.co.uk Facebook Page

Visit Wiihabilitation.co.uk on Facebook to keep up to date with research and news by clicking here or by clicking 'like' below.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Technology within therapy - Biometrics E-Link vs Nintendo Wii

For those who recognise the value of computers within therapy, they probably won't need to be told about the Nintendo Wii but its not the only use of computer gaming within rehabilitation, nor will it be the last.  One criticism of the Nintendo Wii is its lack of specificity, in that there isn't a piece of software that fully meets the needs of therapy.  It doesn't allow you to easily record progress in a manner that is in keeping with therapeutic need and it doesn't let you configure the software that you are using to allow the patient to work at a level and pace which is both suitable and comfortable alongside being therapeutically beneficial.

There are other alternatives on the market though and, unlike the Wii, The E-Link may not be as well known but similarly to the Wii it uses games to support therapeutic activities.  Produced by Biometrics, the E-Link is far more robust tool and treatment for therapists and does all that the Nintendo Wii currently does not.  It records  progression, prints charts, allows the therapist to set goals, targets, offers feedback, saves patient information securely, can be used as an outcome measure in its own right and significantly doesn't allow the patient to 'cheat' or not fully complete the required task/movement.

Its control mechanisms, used by the patient/client are interchangeable and are controlled by several devices.  The first measures angles (angle-x) produced by joint movements,  the second measures EMG muscle activity (myo-x device), the third is mechanical (upper limb kit) requiring patients to physically control a rotating wheel with a choice of handles or grips for hand function and finally a set of pressure plates that measure forces.   It is incredibly versatile and has few limitations, meaning that any joint can be exercised and worked in the way that is therapeutically beneficial.

On the downside the E-Link has two weaknesses - the graphics and the price.  Through discussion with colleagues, and use of the E-Link, the graphics are an obvious comment to make.  They don't come close to the detail or fluency that many have become accustomed to when playing mainstream console games - but developing console style games requires a phenomenal amount of financing which would only ever serve to increase the over all cost of the E-Link system.  From experience its worth mentioning that it shouldn't matter what the game looks and feels like - its the function and the achievements that count.  I still have very fond memories of ZX Spectrum games and would still happily play 'Colin the Cleaner' or 'Dizzy - Treasure Island' purely because I enjoyed the game despite the graphics being grittier than a bucket of course sand.  With the release of E-Links software - version 12 in the New Year the graphics are said to be one focus of improvement within the system and whilst the current graphic could be considered a weakness they certainly are not a flaw.

The price is the second contentious point.  With the Nintendo Wii now at an off the shelf affordable price of around £120 the E-Link, in contrast, costs considerably more.  The difference comes from the two systems being made for very different reasons.  The Wii is a gaming console that has, as an unintended offshoot, been commandeered by therapists and patients alike to enhance their physical well being and abilities.  The E-Link is a purposely designed piece of kit that demands high standards of precision in order to be reliably and specifically used within rehabilitation.

It is easy to comment and state that the Nintendo Wii does all that the E-Link doesn't, it justs costs less and has better graphics - but when the 'rose coloured Nintendo Wii glasses' are removed the Wii isn't so perfect.  The graphics may be exceptional but the games are never specifically designed for rehabilitation, you can't adjust the game play time or the level of difficulty to meet your patients needs.  The movements that are required are too forgiving, in that they don't need to be exact, creating the opportunity for imperfections in the control, and a reduction in the quality, of active movements.  It won't allow you to save specific achievements made by specific patients, or chart their progress and allow you to print out reports.

Often (especially in the early stages of rehabilitation) the games are too 'busy', colourful and so graphically interesting that they distract the patient from the therapeutic purpose of using the game.  Because the games are not designed for the use within therapy they are often quite difficult, setting up for failure, disappointment and potential disinterest from the patient.

Currently the Nintendo Wii can/should only be considered as a therapeutic tool, but those willing to pay the premium and purchase an E-Link system will find themselves offering computer gaming as an assessment tool and/or treatment.

For more information on the E-Link please visit the following website.


Monday, 31 October 2011

Will Wii-U become WiihabU?

It is anticipated that in 2012 Nintendo will release their new Wii console - the Wii U.  With the Wii still growing in popularity amongst healthcare professionals it is interesting to consider whether the Wii U will follow suit.

The Wii U is a new base unit boasting high definition graphics, a large hard drive and a new form of console/controller interactivity.  The 'old' Wii controllers will continue to be compatible alongside the Wii U playing Wii games.  The Wii U moves away from supporting Gamecube discs but this barely relevant to those interested in Wiihabilitation.

Whilst the new console is set to compete with Sony and Microsofts HD gaming consoles the Wii U dares to be different.  The new controller will act as either a stand along screen, so it can be used without a TV or as a second screen, much like the DS.  The second screen function goes way beyond the capabilities of the DS which offers a static alternative view to the same game.  The Wii U controller offers a dynamic view or a window into the game that previously never existed.  An example of this has been demonstrated with a golf game, where the new controller, placed on the floor shows the golf ball which is ready to be hit as the player swings the wii remote. Once the player has swung the wii controller the ball is digitally lauched from the Wii U controller onto the TV in front of the player.  The following trailer on YouTube gives a clearer demonstration and is well worth a viewing.




So what does this mean for WiiHab?
It will largely depend on the price of the console.  Many rehab specialists who use the Nintendo Wii may not be inclined to spend more until specialist software is released.  Finances and specificity aside the Wii U has some interesting features that are worth looking out for.

The potential interaction with the local playing environment and perceptual development that the Wii-U requires may offer an additional dimension to therapy, coupled with the increased precision that will undoubtedly be required to play many of the new games.  The need for the control unit of the console to be held by two hands will unfortunately limit its use for those with hemiplegia or one sided weakness.  This feature doesn't write it off within therapy as the control unit will also act as a viewing platform, away from a TV, but it will decide whether software is useful within the rehab gym or not.  It is reassuring to hear that the current controllers will remain compatible with the new console as this will reassure people that whilst the console it new the fundamental controls will remain familiar.

Even if the Wii-U doesn't capture the imagination of the therapy arena, the Wii will undoubtedly remain for the foreseeable future and continue to be used to motivate fitness recovery, movement control and enjoyment in therapy by a spectrum of therapists and patients.

Read more about the Wii-U here.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Advice and guidance for those using the Wii for rehab especially with Parkinsons Disease

With the Nintendo Wii being 5 years old (released 19th November 2006) it could be considered surprising that nothing yet has superseded it.  Five years in the life of technology is a long time, especially when considering the rate of change and development. Despite both Sony and Microsoft releasing their own 'person controlled consoles' (Move and Kinect respectively) it continues to be the Nintendo Wii that is frequently used, adapted and integrated within therapy and rehabilitative programmes.  The Kinect is possibly the Wii's biggest rival, with Microsoft keenly working with a spectrum of potential users - including those engaged with disabled fitness or rehabilitation.

In the mean time it is interesting to see that support groups now recognise the interest regarding the use of the Wii to maintain mobility and fitness levels by publishing guidance on their website.  I refer to the Parkinsons UK website.  Whilst much of the advice is specifically for those with Parkinsons Disease a considerable amount of the information can be safely applied by others with mobility or movement related disorders.  Parkinson's UK should be commended on their interest to offer specific advice for their readers and for producing a comprehensive guide.  The link for the website and information is below.

Parkinson's UK - Parkinson's and the Wii - (formerly Parkinson's Disease Society)

The question continues to revolve around whether such interest in the use of the Wii will attract the attention of those at Nintendo to formally acknowledge and support the use within therapy and rehabilitation.  The market and interest is still there for them, if they want it, with Nintendo Wii consoles being more commonly, and increasingly, found within therapy units worldwide.  The potential to formally link beneficial therapeutic activities with Nintendo Wii software is as promising as it has ever been, but lets hope we're not kept waiting another five years...