Video games aren’t just for the whippersnappers to entertain themselves anymore!
Case in point: I have performed “Wii-hab!” Wii-hab is a nickname for a therapy concept that has benefited numerous nursing homes, hospitals, and schools for special needs children. Nintendo’s Wii video game system is becoming a craze in rehab therapy for patients recovering from conditions such as strokes, broken bones, surgery, and even combat injuries. You have probably heard of Yoga video games, as well as a couple exercise-influenced video games for the Nintendo Wii, but I don’t think many people thought they would see the day when video games would be used the health care setting and be beneficial!
Nintendo’s genius was not just in the invention of this interactive game console, but in the marketing they used to convey just how beneficial it is and how easy it is to use. Being the daughter of an Occupational Therapist (OT), I have had a lot of experience working in the therapy field (I was a therapy aide for half a decade). For the record, if you have never participated in Physical Therapy (PT) or Occupational Therapy (OT), then let me tell you, it is no cake walk. It takes a lot of determination and strength for patients to accomplish goals and gradually get better. After a long week of exhausting exercise sessions, it was always our intention to mix it up a little bit. We were able to accomplish that with the Nintendo Wii! Every Friday we organized a group therapy session, and it was my job to make creative stations for the geriatric patients to be able to not only work out in a beneficial way but also to have fun! I remember when the system first came out and the facility I worked for purchased one — we had our share of skeptics. So needless to say, when we received our Wii at the facility due to increased reports about the usability of the system, we were all thrilled to see how it would pan out.
At first, using the Wii was very tricky because we had both demented patients as well as extremely cognitive patients. So, of course we had to plan activities that both parties could enjoy. The therapists were excited about using the Wii, but also hesitant; it was a new piece of technology so we were unsure of the outcome of using it. Having used the Wii, I assured them that it was marvelously equipped for ease of use while still being challenging and beneficial. We hooked it up and brought up our first patients to try out the bowling game for the Wii Sports game. The patients were hesitant at first (they grew up without EVER playing video games) but they gave it a whirl. The first patient played for a few moments, while their motor function and gait (a person’s manner of walking) was being observed by the PT, and the results were staggering. This patient hadn’t stood longer than two minutes in over 6 months, but here they were: having a blast standing and playing video games! Needless to say, anyone in that room who was previously unconvinced of the Nintendo Wii’s benefits certainly changed their tune after that!
Here’s an informative news report on the Wii in regard to physical therapy that you may want to check out as well:
After seeing for myself how well the Nintendo Wii works for patient rehab, here is why I believe their design was created so well. They had to design a game that was different and interactive in way no other game system had ever been, but in order to increase their market to everyone they had to design games and a system so user-friendly it would grasp both inexperienced and experienced users while still challenging the video gamers of the world. So with innovation, they created a game system that is completely underestimated in its ability to benefit hand-eye coordination, gait function, occasional cardio, appendage strength, and brain function all wrapped in one!
Even though using the Wii in a therapy setting was not necessarily Nintendo’s intention, they created and marketed something so well that it caught on like wildfire! There are even patients who purchase Wiis for their homes after using one in a therapy setting to continue on their path to wellness. Now that’s great marketing, both on Nintendo’s part and via word-of-mouth!
So what do think, have you ever found the Wii to be beneficial, whether it was to get your kids moving around a little more, or for yourself? What are your experiences with the Nintendo Wii game system? How do you feel they market themselves effectively?