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Treating Burns With Nintendo Wii February 26, 2008

Posted by Mrs Weird Scientist in Human Body, Technology, Think About It.
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Nintendo Wii

For most of us, the Nintendo Wii games console is a fun way to hang out and play with a cool toy. For burns victims, however, it’s a lot more than just fun! They are using a Wii as part of their physiotherapy program. In fact, it’s currently available at a physiotherapy unit in England, where burns victims and those with hand injuries get to play around with a Wii as part of their therapy.

A Positive History

Better still, the Wii already has a successful history. In Manchester, it was used to rehabilitate a boy who suffered burns after being struck by lightning. Over here where I am currently living in Wales, it was even used in a care home with the aim to keep the residents physically and mentally active. Also, in other areas of the world such as Germany and the United States, it has been used to help stroke victims regain movement in their arms and legs.

Making It Work

What’s the deal with it? Well, playing on a Wii requires the user to mimic a whole bunch of physical movements used in sports such as tennis or boxing. It’s thought that the Wii is more than just fun because it helps the user to regain flexibility in damaged areas. Since the Wii isn’t seen in the same light as traditional physiotherapy activities, patients respond favorably and simply have fun doing it, without focusing on it being a treatment.

Still, the point of the Wii isn’t to totally replace conventional physiotherapy. Instead, it’s a cool complement to the more traditional types of exercise and movement needed to help a patient improve mobility. So far, it’s looking like the response to the Wii is fabulous. Patients have improved their range of motion and strength while having a blast doing it!

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1. David Bradley - February 27, 2008

I saw that they were using the Wii for surgical training earlier this year, but this sounds like another great application. It would be great if Nintendo would unlock the innards so that users could install their own software and stuff without a chip mod. That would really open up apps.


2. Miss Weird Scientist - February 27, 2008

True, it would be great but given the monetary aspect, it’s doubtful that will happen.

3. jenn - February 27, 2008

if I don’t have burns will the wii make me stronger and better?

4. Miss Weird Scientist - February 27, 2008

I can’t say for sure, Jenn, because so far I haven’t read anything that investigates whether the Wii can make a healthy person ‘stronger’ or ‘healthier.’ What I would tend to say though, is that the Wii works well for people such as burns victims because their condition can be very delicate. This means that sports and activities you or I might play are a bit too risky given the state of their body. I think that if you want to get stronger, you might be better off doing the actual activity. Leave the Wii for just fun for now maybe. :)

5. Scott - March 3, 2008

sweet post miss weird scientist :)
over where i live the wii is also being used in care home for the elderly, and i bet they can’t get enough of it.
but we need to remember that this will not take place of exercises that kids need to stay healthy and fit. but i guess it’s better than the average video games that i like to play :p

6. Miss Weird Scientist - March 4, 2008

Scott, most of us can’t get enough of the Wii. Fun times! Hehe. Good point about it not replacing traditional physiotherapy exercises. It’s more of a complement to a comprehensive program.

7. Colorado Physical Therapy - February 19, 2009

We’ve been using it as a rehabilitation/ balance tool after ankle sprains & knee surgeries.

I think there is a lot of great potential uses.

It makes what are traditionally rather boring exercises fun.

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