Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wii Rehab in Nursing Homes: Physical Therapy Technology for Seniors (Audio: 3:32 mins.)

The popularity of Nintendo Wii games continues to grow in senior citizen communities. Some physical therapists have finally decided to ride that winning Wii horse, too. Wii is being used to help patients recovering from stroke or closed-head injuries. Patients can have energetic fun while going through the motions of actually playing a variety of sports that will help them heal.

At Stratford Village in Midland, MI, residents with wheelchairs and walkers can participate in various Wii challenges. The handheld “Wii-mote” is used to simulate body movements of actual sports. One 87 year old, who was working on her upper body strength, beat her own son after three rounds in a virtual boxing ring. When no human partners are around, residents can play Wii by competing against the computer.

Where is all this enthusiasm for Wii going? Nobody knows. The American Physical Therapy Association wants more research to prove just how effective Wii really is for rehab purposes. In the meantime, you can listen to an audio account of how therapists look to Wii games for rehab benefits. At last, couch potatoes can show how athletic they really are.

Frances Shani Parker, Author
"Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes”
“Hospice and Nursing Homes Blog”


  1. I have a Wii and I find myself doing terrible at Boxing. I am glad someone is able to be good at it! I have not seen this tried in hospice patients locally, or nursing homes for that matter. Got to talk to the PT/OT folks I guess!

  2. Derek, PTAJuly 17, 2008

    I am a PTA in a nursing home setting and we have used the Wii and many of treatments. One that has stood out for me is a stroke patient that I have seen has used it to get return back into their arm and practice balance while standing to bowl against other patients being that she used to bowl a lot before the incident.

  3. Derek, thanks for sharing that testimony. It's always good to hear from a firsthand witness.

  4. I am not surprised that the Wii is being used as an instrument to physical therapy. Physical Therapy Dallas Texas based programs also utilize that tool. What amazes me, however, is that even the senior citizens also got the hang of it! Who says video games are only played and enjoyed by young ones?