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Games console finds new use in rehabilitation

Games console finds new use in rehabilitation

Tuesday 15 October 2019

Games console finds new use in rehabilitation


A games console is being put to an unexpected use treating islanders with complex neurological conditions.

The Wii Fit – a games console and balance board developed by Nintendo – is being used by the Jersey Oxygen Therapy Centre to rehabilitate people diagnosed with conditions like multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s.

The centre, which recently opened its newly refurbished facility on Trinity Hill, is partaking in the cutting-edge therapy to help their clients enhance their balance, core strength and coordination.

Just one of several rehabilitation services offered by the centre, the ‘Wii Fit’ package consists of a console and a game which involves guided yoga, balance and other exercise sessions. The ‘player’ stands on a balance board which tracks movements in real time on the screen and allows the programme to identify faults in users' posture. 

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Pictured: The newly refurbished Oxygen Therapy Centre on Trinity Hill (Jersey Oxygen Therapy Centre).

Development and Operations Manager at the Oxygen Therapy Centre Tori Ducker told Express that there were benefits of using the Wii Fit when it comes to rehabilitation programmes.

Tori explained that the centre came across the alternative therapy because it was being used in neuro-physio at Overdale Hospital for their patients with MS, Parkinson's and similar conditions.

Although the Wii Fit package is “quite an inexpensive piece of kit”, according to the Operations Manager, it “does provide a fantastic piece of rehabilitation equipment".

This is because the game is “looking at improving, balance, coordination, visual and auditory processing as well so you’re having to learn how to do all of that at the same time”.

This combination of skills, Tori continued, “can be quite difficult for people with various neurological conditions - particularly like MS - to manage on a day-to-day basis.” 

Use of the Wii Fit as a rehabilitation tool has been the subject of several major studies and a number of research papers on its neuro-physiological uses have been published. 

“There are studies linking the use of the Nintendo Wii with the Wii Fit programme to reductions in falls amongst people with MS because they’ve got better balance and strength.”

Although the centre mainly offers the therapy to those with Parkinson’s and MS, Tori said that the Wii Fit can rehabilitate people with a multitude of different conditions including fibromyalgia, cancer and those who are recovering from a stroke. 

Elaborating on how the balance board provides helpful exercises for those who come to the centre, Tori told Express: “You can take someone through an initial session where they actually have to sort of work out where their centre of gravity is and it gets them to re-align themselves… It makes you more aware of how you’re moving and how you’re balancing too much one way or the other.” 

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Pictured: The centre also offers meditation and exercise programmes as well as oxygen therapy.

Building up the core strength for people with conditions such as MS is really important, Tori explained: “If they can’t walk as well as they could – you find they sit a lot more so their core muscles start to deteriorate to an extent which then in itself can create more issues around falls and things because our core muscles are the ones that hold us upright.” 

In particular, the balance board offers an option “to get people moving in general in a way that doesn’t require them to be going to the gym".

“When you stand on the Wii board and actually go through all those exercises you’ll be forced to use all those muscles, but obviously in a safe and controlled manner.”

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