Minneapolis Hospital Using Wii to Help Stroke Victims

| 5 Sep 2007 11:33

The Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis has begun using the Nintendo Wii as part of a new recovery program for stroke victims.

Patients use the Wii's motion-sensing controller to simulate real-world actions, helping them recover balance, dexterity and motor control. Jerry Pope, a 77-year-old member of the U.S. Tennis Assocation Northern Hall of Fame, suffered a stroke in June and has been using Wii Tennis in conjunction with regular rehabilitation techniques to recover lost function. "Because of the interaction of the game, I get the physical sensation of playing tennis," he said. "It really works. It can fool me into thinking that I'm doing what's happening on the screen."

Pope's intense dislike of the traditional repetitive exercises used in stroke recovery programs led occupational therapist Matthew White to consider the Wii's unique control system as a therapeutic tool. The other high-tech equipment in the hospital's Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Institute typically costs thousands of dollars, so the inexpensive Wii system was easy to incorporate. "It's just one more tool I have as a therapist," White said. "It's one more way to challenge Jerry."

Wii consoles have also been employed in similar programs at other hospitals. Nintendo's Perry Kaplan said, "We've seen reports of soldiers returning from Iraq using Wii as part of their rehab and a way to help them heal. We've heard directly from several cancer patients telling us the Wii is an integral part of their recovery and rehabilitation, and it makes a huge difference in their spirits." In Edmonton, Alberta, a hospital was recently reported to be using a Wii system to help a boxer recover from a brain injury.

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