By: Dr. Brian P. Kinmartin, PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, STC, CWcHP, Cert. DN
Wiihabilitation has become one of the newest crazes in physical therapy being used in the rehabilitation of many types of neurological and orthopedic injuries. Starting last month Professional Rehabilitation Services located in Pawleys Island, South Carolina began integrating the Nintendo Wii into the treatment plans and rehabilitation of many of its patients. Who would have thought the Nintendo Wii video game system, that is extremely popular in the video game world now is becoming a very useful rehabilitation tool assisting patients recovering from strokes, broken bones, surgery and even combat injuries. It has become a very useful tool returning patient's to many sports, especially golf and tennis.
The Wii game console becomes extremely useful in physical therapy and rehabilitation by using its unique, motion-sensitive controller. By using the motion-sensitive controller, in combination with many of the Wii games that require body movements similar to traditional therapy exercises, the Wii assists rehabilitation in regaining strength, range of motion and motor control returning patient's back to daily functional tasks or recreational activities. The most popular Wii games in rehab involve sports; baseball, bowling, boxing, golf and tennis. The Wii games use the same arm swings required by these sports, patients wave a wireless controller that directs the actions of animated athletes on the screen. This provides Physical Therapists with a very useful tool when attempting to overcome deficits that are not allowing injured patients to return to their previous sports or activities.
There are many useful forms of physical therapy. The routine stretching and strengthening exercises that help patients in the rehabilitative process can be painful, and repetitive. The hallmark sign of an experienced Physical Therapist is the ability to transition patients back to functional tasks and recreational activities, once they are asymptomatic. The Wii is an excellent tool to do just that. Wiihabilitation simulates many sports and games that are very useful is transitioning patient's from injury to wellness, many times while performing the activity or game that they enjoy the most. Often patients become so engrossed mentally when using the Wii that they are almost oblivious to some of the pain or discomfort that in routine forms of physical therapy may have limited their progression. Also because of the Wii's game format, it creates a kind of inner competitiveness that assists in pushing patients through their barriers in rehab. Many times in physical therapy when a patient has plateaued in the rehabilitation process getting them to refocus their attention away from their physical limitation helps them overcome it. That is an aspect the Wii adds to the rehabilitation process.
Physical Therapists have begun using the Wii in situations where more traditional forms of therapy haven't worked. Wii golf and tennis is extremely useful to therapists allowing them to diagnose and correct mechanical problems with a patient's swing or serve that may be contributing to the source of their discomfort. Both Wii golf and tennis will be very useful therapeutically post surgically for patients undergoing rotator cuff repair and those undergoing a variety of lower back surgical procedures. The Wii will allow patients to simulate their exact swing or serve while playing under the direct supervision of a Physical Therapist. The therapist will then make any necessary modifications or adjustments that are needed prior to the patient returning to their sport. Also one of the greatest aspects of the Wii is that it is priced well enough to transfer patients to home programs once they have completed their rehab. The game may be virtual, but the physical exertion is very real. Also, many people that have been using the Wii for either fun or therapeutic reasons have associated the increased physical exertion with weight loss.
The Physical Therapists at Professional Rehabilitation Services are continuing to develop ways to integrate technology into the rehabilitation process in order to maximize the outcomes of their patients. They believe that an individualized hands on treatment approach is the formula for the best possible outcomes. Integrating the Wii into this winning formula only assists in returning their patients to the highest functional level possible. If you are interested in integrating the Wii into your rehab or for further information on this topic please contact Professional Rehabilitation Services.
PRS is a group of Physical Therapist owned Private Outpatient Physical Therapy Practices specializing in orthopedic, balance and sports injuries with offices in Myrtle Beach and Pawleys Island, SC. For more information on this topic or to schedule a free consultation please contact Brian P. Kinmartin PT, DPT, MTC, OCS, STC, CWcHP, Cert. DN, (Pawleys Island) (843) 235-0200, Richard A. Owens, PT, MS, OCS, Cert. SHT, CWcHP, Cert DN (Surfside) (843) 831-0163 at Professional Rehabilitation Services, Richard DeFalco, DPT, OCS, CSCS, CWcHP, Cert. DN (Myrtle Beach) (843) 839-1300, or visit us at: www.prsrehabservices.com