Lifewatch: Nintendo Wii rehab

Reported by Claire Hosmann - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

(WECT) - The Nintendo Wii has become a popular tool in physical therapy for people recovering from strokes, surgery, and nerve-damaging conditions.

When Chelsey Fuselier suffered a severe spinal cord injury two years ago, she was told she would never walk again.  After three months, Chelsey regained some movement in her body.

"I always had hope, regardless of what the doctors told me, I knew I was going to walk again," said Chelsey.

With several months of physical therapy under her belt, Chelsey was ready for a change in routine that would keep her body getting stronger.  That's when the staff at Action Potential Physical Therapy brought in an unexpected new tool - the Nintendo Wii.

"It's a fun way of doing some of the therapeutic exercises that we have them do and it's just different, so they're not getting as bored and it's a little bit more creative on that end," said Physical Therapist Stephanie Marceaux.

Marceaux said the results have been phenomenal for a wide range of patients.

Sonny Soileau started undergoing physical therapy after a major hip surgery that left him unable to walk.  His mix of walking exercises, floor exercises, and "Wii-hab" has changed his way of living.

Marceaux says she sees patients do the Wii exercises for a longer period of time than traditional therapy because it keeps their mind focused on an activity vs. pain and repetitive movements.

It's something that Julie Landry, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis five years ago, now looks forward to.

"It's a change in pace, it's different, it breaks the monotony of coming in and just doing exercises," said Julie.

From skiing to tennis, patients are getting stronger with each sway.

Both Sonny and Julie have Nintendo Wii systems in their homes so they can do some of the therapy exercises on their own, but they say between kids and grandchildren, it can be a tough battle deciding whose turn it is.