News Article

Wii Treatment for Parkinson's Trialled

Posted by Sean Aaron

The health benefits of games like Wii Fit have been the topic for debate, but use in physical therapy looks more and more viable.

A researcher at the Medical College of Georgia in the United States has recently released initial results of trials using Wii Sports in physical therapy sessions with sufferers of Parkinson's disease (a degenerative disease that affects motor skills) with some extremely positive results that suggests video games could become a major part of physical therapy for the future.

During the two-month long pilot, 20 patients showing symptoms in both sides of the body played two games each of tennis and bowling and one of boxing during hour-long sessions three times per week. Dr. Ben Herz was impressed with the results:

"By the middle of the study, we actually had a number of people who could [defeat] their opponent out in the first round, which amazed us"

In addition to the demonstrated gaming prowess participants showed improvements in rigidity and fine motor control as well as energy and most importantly a reduction in depression -- a common problem amongst sufferers of the disease -- down to zero levels.

Dr. Herz was so impressed with the results he went on to state that:

"I think we're going to be using virtual reality and games a lot more because it provides a controlled physical environment that allows patients to participate in the activities they need or want to do. A patient doesn't have to go to a bowling alley and worry about environmental problems or distractions...Game systems are the future of rehab"

Study participants were also apparently pleased with the experience:

"About 60 percent of the study participants decided to buy a Wii for themselves. That speaks volumes for how this made them feel."

Dr. Herz plans on further tests using the Wii Fit Balance Board with Parkinsons patients. His initial findings were presented last week at the fifth annual Games for Health Conference in Boston.

Whether or not you agree with the Wii's broader appeal, it sure is nice to read stories about the medical benefits resulting from Nintendo's desire to have a more inclusive gaming experience with their current home console.

[via my.mcg.edu]

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User Comments (14)

warioswoods

#2

warioswoods said:

It can be used for any disease or ailment: play Mario Galaxy, forget you have the problem for a few hours.

Machu

#4

Machu said:

Two sugars please, shlurp!

Nintendo has knocked down walls I never thought games could. From retirement homes with Wii Bowling tourneys to controlled use within rehabilitation. Amazing!

Maybe Madworld should be used in high security prisons, so they can 'get it out of there system'. :P I'm fairly passive after an hour of that.

Sean_Aaron

#5

Sean_Aaron said:

Prisoners in Scotland have access to gaming consoles, so that's definitely a possibility (though it is cause for some criticism...).

Cipher

#6

Cipher said:

I can see doctors and researchers using the Wii Vitality Sensor in conjunction with stuff like this.

Knux

#7

Knux said:

One day,Sony and Microsoft will go bankrupt and Nintendo will dominate the video gaming industry. It will be a SUPER-JOYFUL DAY! :D

hobbes

#8

hobbes said:

This isn't entirely new. For my senior design project, I had to design an ankle rehab device for use with a virtual reality motion sensing system. The professor I was working with has been researching its use for a few years at least. She hasn't tried the Wii in her research yet, but the balance board was in inspiration for our device.

Also the Wii Motion Plus opens up a whole new realm of possibility in this field as the Wii will be capable of similar types of games/programs as her set up with the pohlemus sensors.

AlexSays

#9

AlexSays said:

One day,Sony and Microsoft will go bankrupt and Nintendo will dominate the video gaming industry. It will be a SUPER-JOYFUL DAY!

The day Nintendo has no competition and can be as lazy as they want would be a "super-joyful" day?
Right.

Doesn't really matter because of the three, Nintendo would be the first to go bankrupt, but this is why I dislike so many Nintendo fans. I rarely see Microsoft or Sony supporters hoping the other companies all fail.

AquaDan88

#10

AquaDan88 said:

My sister-in-law is a physical therapist. She says that they're already using the Wii and Wii Fit in her clinic with positive results. She says its the funniest thing watching these 85 year-olds trying to bowl or box.

On a side note, my dad has Parkinson's Disease. Maybe I'll try to get him to play the Wii a little more often. :-)

Kid_A

#12

Kid_A said:

Yeah, I had to use WiiFit for physical therapy when I was recovering from some medical complications. It was really useful! It's not a great excersize program on its own, but used in conjunction with other physical activity it really does work.

jackaroo

#13

jackaroo said:

Wait....wheres the whole videogames are the spawn of satan and are bad for our health and posture and cause us all to go on violent killing sprees part....
Its in there somewhere! I know it! And ill find it!

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