Presbyterian turns to video games to help patients
by Ali Drake
They’re calling it “Wii-hab,” at Presbyterian Rehab Center. Patients are playing video games on the Nintendo Wii as part of their recovery process.
“Probably 95 percent of the patients that use it absolutely love it,” Supervisor of Rehab Services Scott Feil said.
To aid in the physical rehabilitation for someone with upper body injuries, patients play Wii Sports where they can virtually bowl, box, or play tennis and golf as a means of increasing their range of motion, strength, and balance.
If the patient is working on their lower body, they can use the Balance Board for Wii Fit. Patients can rhythmically march as part of the game’s marching band, or do simple yoga poses while the board measures their posture and balance.
“There is more compliance with the Wii exercise programs,” said Feil. Patients are more likely to keep up with their physical therapy at home when they’re using the Wii.
“It’s a new tool in our bag of tricks as therapists,” said Feil. He explained in the past, therapists would prescribe out patients different exercises to do at home as part of their physical therapy. In May of 2010, Presbyterian Rehab Center introduced the Wii as an option for outpatients, and Feil has seen improved results, “now we can do the same motions but engulf the patients in the video game and they forget they’re doing the same boring motion over and over,” said Feil.
Feil cites patient, Lance Shelley, as a prime example of a successful Wii-hab. Shelley injured his ankle in a cycling accident. After using the Wii along with more classic forms of physical therapy, Shelley’s doctor deemed him healed and called it “the best recovery he had ever seen,” according to Shelley.
The Presbyterian Rehab Centers that are currently offering the Wii-hab program includes their locations in Matthews, Huntersville, and Steele Creek.
“We hope to have it in all of the Presbyterian Rehab Centers in the greater Charlotte market in the near future,” Feil said.