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.

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