You might wonder how a video game would help with physical rehabilitation:
Using the game console's unique, motion-sensitive controller, Wii games require body movements similar to traditional therapy exercises. But patients become so engrossed mentally they are almost oblivious to the rigor, Osborn said.This kind of therapy seems ideal when working with wounded troops:
"In the Wii system, because it's kind of a game format, it does create this kind of inner competitiveness. Even though you may be boxing or playing tennis against some figure on the screen, it's amazing how many of our patients want to beat their opponent," said Osborn of Southern Illinois Healthcare, which includes the hospital in Herrin. The hospital, about 100 miles southeast of St. Louis, bought a Wii system for rehab patients late last year.
"When people can refocus their attention from the tediousness of the physical task, oftentimes they do much better," Osborn said.
The Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital west of Chicago recently bought a Wii system for its spinal cord injury unit.While the big annual fundraiser by the milblogs may be over, the need for our wounded troops is always ongoing. If you can, please consider donating to Project Valour-IT.
Pfc. Matthew Turpen, 22, paralyzed from the chest down in a car accident last year while stationed in Germany, plays Wii golf and bowling from his wheelchair at Hines. Turpen says the games help beat the monotony of rehab and seem to be doing his body good, too.
"A lot of guys don't have full finger function so it definitely helps being able to work on using your fingers more and figuring out different ways to use your hands" and arms, Turpen said.
At Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the therapy is well-suited to patients injured during combat in Iraq, who tend to be in the 19 to 25 age range — a group that's "very into" playing video games, said Lt. Col. Stephanie Daugherty, Walter Reed's chief of occupational therapy.
"They think it's for entertainment, but we know it's for therapy," she said.