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For some, Wii is key to recovery

July 17, 2008 10:53:37 AM PDT
Wii video games are a popular form of physical therapy. Especially for people with disabilities who are recovering from injuries. Wii video games require body movements that are similar to traditional therapy exercises. It's replacing the pain people experiences during physical therapy.

At Hines VA Hospital, 46-year-old Christopher Blaxton is boxing. He became disabled several months ago in Iraq.

"I had nine days left in Iraq, and I was teaching the new unit replacing us, showing the area in Iraq, and then as we were coming back to the fort, that's when I got hit ... flipped over the truck and that's how I got hurt," said Blaxton. "I broke my back and my hip and my lungs collapsed and all kinds of good stuff happened to me."

Blaxton was transfer to Hines for rehab services. He is undergoing Wii therapy.

"The reason Wii helps me learn my balance, 'cause there's a game on there, boxing, and I sit on the bench right here, and there's no one supporting me, and the boxing you'll use your arms and strength and that's a good balancing for my torso right here where I learn how to balance."

Last year, Hines bought Wii for their spinal cord injuries patients. Jill Kalkofen is a therapist.

"We do a lot of the sport programs in there, so if a patient was into, you know, tennis prior to the injury, we could build up their strength and get them back into tennis before, but some of the patients we use it for it helps with their balance," said Kalkofen.

At Shriner's Children's Hospital 11-year-old Colten Menser is playing Wii tennis. Colten became disabled in a go-kart accident. His mom Sissy says he was in a coma for a while.

Slowly, Menser regained his mobility, but what really gets him going is Wii.

"You know they've got the Wii and they brought it in our room, you know, it's like, 'I wanna stay a little longer,' " said Sissy.

Shriner's director of recreation therapy Darlene Kelly says the Nintendo Wii is not only use for fun with their young patients.

"Here also getting exercise out of the Wii program," said Kelly.

"They're competitive, and so they can play with their therapist or family members or, you know, children or adults. It's multigenerational, it's something that anybody can do," said Kalkofen. Both patients are hoping to continue Wii therapy at home.

There is lots of information about Wii video therapy online. Try typing "Wii video therapy" into your favorite search engine.

Hines VA Hospital
www.hines.med.va.gov/pat/contactus.htm

Chicago Shriners Hospital
www.shrinershq.org/hospitals/chicago/


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