Eat & Move-O-Matic

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Physical therapists turn to the Wii

The Nintendo Wii has become a tool in physical, occupational and neurological rehabilitation, specifically the Wii Sports games. Balance and movement are common concerns for those recovering from brain injuries or strokes and Wii Sports games can bring an element of pleasure into physical therapy while patients work on balance and movement issues.

If an activity is something that patients previously enjoyed, they are often more motivated to do it. Two years ago, Aroostook Medical Center in Presque Isle, Maine, inpatient and outpatient units added Wii Sports to their physical therapy program. Renee Guerette, the program manager for the center’s neurological rehabilitation unit, said they previously used board games with patients, but the board games didn’t have the same feedback as the Wii games. Scoring provides immediate feedback to patients as their motor skills, range of motion, balance and coordination improves with activity.

Guerette also noted that that when recuperating patients play Wii Golf at home, it is not always regarded as exercise, yet the repetition of movement and the practice of balance still have a positive effect on recuperation.

Dr. Arlene McCarthy, director of the neurological physical therapy residency program at Kaiser Permanente in Redwood City, CA believes that therapy should be fun and meaningful for the individual and if patients are having a good time while using the Wii and getting better then it is another tool in the therapy toolbox that can be used.

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Funding Information

© 2013. NMSU Board of Regents. All rights reserved. This project was supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture through the National Research Initiative (Grant #2008-55215-18837).

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The Exergames Unlocked project includes a multi-state team of accomplished media education researchers, exercise physiologists, medical professionals and doctoral students. Contributing members are researchers in their fields and have helped launch the use of exergames as tools to combat obesity in their communities and beyond. New Mexico State University researchers and their partners have been funded to research the impact of exergames, develop specific recommendations for exergame use, and implement exergaming programs. As part of that project, this website provides access to resources based on research, sample projects, and input from the exergaming community. For more information, contact the project director: Dr. Barbara Chamberlin, Professor, New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service
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Why Exergames Unlocked? Exergames are videogames that encourage physical activity. Here, you’ll find the best and most effective exergames, as well as strategies and recommendations on using them with different audiences and in different locations.