July 21, 2008 Video games — often regarded as nothing more than mindless entertainment for lethargic kids and teens — are proving to be an effective, new tool to motivate patients to perform rehabilitation exercises.
Rehabilitation therapists from the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center are using the motion-sensitive Nintendo Wii video game console, along with traditional methods, to help patients recover from life-changing injuries.
Patients hold wireless remotes that control actions on screen. Players swing the controller to simulate realistic motions, like swinging a tennis racquet, swatting a baseball for a homerun, among countless other motions. For burn patients or any patient with a skin graft, moving and stretching the skin is very painful, but imperative for a successful recovery.
The Burn Center is also employing a special add-on to the Nintendo Wii system, Guitar Hero III. The controller for the game resembles a miniature guitar. Patients strum a bar on the guitar's body and press color-coded buttons that resemble notes. Therapists hope that Guitar Hero will help patients with burns on their hands, arms and shoulders to regain fine-motor control.
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The above story is based on materials provided by New York- Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center/Weill Cornell Medical College.
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