Nintendo Wii, Exer-gaming
More and more evidence is showing the benefit of gaming consoles in the promotion of exercise and task practice for patients. Jane Brodie from the Hobart Community Rehabilitation Unit, Australia, has recently reported the use of the Nintendo Wii with their complex rehabilitation patients with positive effects. They have integrated the use of Wii into individual patient programs and group sessions, and have used the device to focus mainly on balance activities with a variety of clients, the oldest being 91. Patients have shown great motivation through the competitive nature of the games and positive feedback awarded for correct actions. Jane reports that one non-ambulant client began using the Wii as part of her program, sitting on the balance board on a plinth to improve trunk control. Her son has now set up the program for her to use at home. Another patient played tennis as part of his balance training program and was very motivated by his competitive nature to practice at home to beat his clinician. His balance measures have improved significantly throughout his program and he is more motivated to exercise in this way than with other traditional exercises. The Nintendo Wii is now one of their rehabilitation tools that is enjoyed by the clinicians and clients alike. Jane is happy to use the Wii in therapy as an adjunct to traditional therapies to work on gross and fine-motors skills, sitting and standing balance, proprioception (sense of balance), coordination, sequencing tasks, reaction times, planning and cardiovascular training. It provides good feedback mechanisms via the remote controllers and the resultant on-screen activity, outcomes of success at games, times scores and progressing through levels. The Wii is motivational, social and interactive and has good translation to the home environment. An unpublished study by Dr. Hetrz from the Medical College of Georgia, USA on a population of Parkinson's clients showed improved energy, mood and fine motor skills and reduced rigidity after using the Wii three times per week for one hour. Nitz et al. 2009 (unpublished) found improvements in balance in a healthy population after a 10 weeks pre-programmed Wii-fit regime. Exer-gaming is now used to describe the use of activity promoting gaming devices in fitness, rehabilitation and recreation. I hope such Exer-gaming will become more popular, particularly in the geriatric area, in Hong Kong promoted by physiotherapists and doctors alike.