Wii-habilitation at Ohio State

Wii-habilitation at Ohio State

Written by Sean Colleli on 1/24/2008 for Wii  
More On: Wii
It’s always great when GamingNexus has something local to cover. It’s rare for game related event to occur in sleepy Columbus Ohio, but every once in a while we find something cool. Reuters recently did a story on a cool program at the Ohio State University Med Center, about the Wii being used in therapy. Being a local guy and an OSU student, I looked into the story. Below is an interview I conducted with Todd Blind, team leader for stroke and general rehabilitation at OSU.

First of all, thank you Mr. Blind for taking the time to speak with us about your program. We cover a lot of news about Wii games and hardware, but rarely do we encounter such a unique story. As an OSU student, this story is particularly interesting for me. I’d like to ask a few questions about your program and the Wii’s involvement.

First of all, how was this program started?

As Physical Medicine Rehab Therapists we are always looking for “functional” approaches to therapy. The Wii is a mainstream approach as gaming relates to many individuals.

What was the inspiration for using the Wii in such a creative and beneficial way?
The combination of technology, pop culture and clinical intervention.

Who jump-started the program?
Robbie Winget, Occupational Therapist.

How long has the program been going on?
4 months.

This program is being carried out by the Ohio State University Medical Center, but could you tell us the location where therapy is performed?
Dodd Hall is a 60 bed inpatient rehabilitation facility for the medical center.

How do you incorporate the Wii into your standard rehabilitation practices? Is it mostly a side-exercise, or has it become an integral element?
Therapist use clinical judgment based on persons physical, cognitive, social or emotional needs and use it as it relates to their overall rehab goals.

Could you explain some of the specific ways the Wii is used? Could you detail some of the specific physical problems the Wii is helping with?
If a person has cognitive goals, they could perform a search on the internet to retrieve requested information. Another example is the patient who needs to increase balance while standing can participate in the game of golf focusing on the swing. Similar to that, a therapist can challenge balance while sitting utilizing the boxing game.

Could you describe the kinds of patients in your program?
Our program specializes in Stroke, Traumatic Brain Injury, Spinal Cord Injury and General Rehabilitation type patients.

Are there any gamers?
Many, of all ages.

How do non-gamers respond to the Wii’s use in therapy?
They are very open to the opportunity. I feel they see this as a creative approach to achieving goals.

The Wii has a pretty large library of games, but the best sellers seem to be “casual” games that appeal to a wider demographic. Are these casual games the ones you used most in therapy? Please give examples of some of the games you use.
The sports games have been the most popular to date. The patient usually only has to get acquainted with the Wii equipment not with the game. That makes the therapist’s job more efficient so that they can focus on rehab and not gaming 101.

Nintendo is planning to release “Wii Fit” early next year. This game will incorporate a balance board into gameplay, and will supposedly allow players to practice yoga, strength training and other fitness exercises. Do you think this game will be appropriate for your program?
Absolutely, it would be fun to build Wii-habilitation clinic.

The Wii is much sought-after, and consumers are frustrated with the shortages that have existed since the console’s launch. How did you manage to acquire the elusive game console?
One never reveals their sources.

Where do you see your program going next, and is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Our program is always changing and investigating clinical or very mainstream technology to incorporate into therapeutic interventions. We welcome advice and collaboration from the gaming community on creative approaches towards participation.
GamingNexus would like to thank Mr. Blind for taking the time to answer our questions

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.

About Author

I've been gaming off and on since I was about three, starting with Star Raiders on the Atari 800 computer. As a kid I played mostly on PC--Doom, Duke Nukem, Dark Forces--but enjoyed the 16-bit console wars vicariously during sleepovers and hangouts with my school friends. In 1997 GoldenEye 007 and the N64 brought me back into the console scene and I've played and owned a wide variety of platforms since, although I still have an affection for Nintendo and Sega.

I started writing for Gaming Nexus back in mid-2005, right before the 7th console generation hit. Since then I've focused mostly on the PC and Nintendo scenes but I also play regularly on Sony and Microsoft consoles. My favorite series include Metroid, Deus Ex, Zelda, Metal Gear and Far Cry. I'm also something of an amateur retro collector. I currently live in Columbus, Ohio with my fiancee and our cat, who sits so close to the TV I'd swear she loves Zelda more than we do.

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