Let the games begin.
Physical therapists at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital have introduced a unique and fun way for patients to be involved in their own recovery process.
It is not uncommon to walk by the hospital's outpatient therapy services and see a patient boxing, bowling, playing baseball or trying to balance on a platform. Therapists are using the Wii interactive gaming system to facilitate coordination, balance and strength in a variety of patients.
Heather deCordova, assistant director, outpatient therapy services, said using the Wii system has lead to an increased level of participation. Patients recognize the natural actions required for the game and that makes it easier for them to participate in the therapy. And no matter what the age of the patient, the Wii games are very easy to learn.
"The system is much more fun for some patients than traditional techniques, which allows us to get more effort from participants," deCordova said.
The game system can be used sitting or standing in both physical and occupational therapies. The system is very adaptable to a variety of patient levels, from the non-ambulatory elderly person to young, brain-injured patients. Response from patients has been positive. The games also help patients with cognitive issues because it teaches them how to follow a sequence of steps, which an essential element of physical therapy.
"We have found that using the Wii games improves participation in therapy by patients with limited mobility and strength, as well as those who are hard to motivate," deCordova said.
The hospital purchased the entire sports package which allows therapists to utilize many different movement patterns, she said.