Researchers are finding that interactive game systems like Nintendo's Wii are especially helpful for people with chronic health conditions. Playing the games increases physical activity and can even improve the ability to care for oneself.
Advanced interactive games are making inroads as health and wellness tools, according to the November issue of Mayo Clinic Health Letter.
Researchers are finding that interactive game systems are especially helpful for people with chronic health conditions. Playing the games increases physical activity and can even improve the ability to care for oneself.
The system that’s attracting the most attention is Nintendo’s Wii and its activities package called Wii Fit. The Wii combines a virtual environment and wireless motion-sensitive remote controllers that allow participants of different abilities to play games such as golf or bowling. Wii games also simulate daily living skills such as driving or cooking.
Health professionals who work in rehabilitation or retirement living centers are using Wii to create a virtual environment tailored to an individual’s abilities and mobility, even if that person requires the use of a cane, walker or wheelchair. For instance, gamers can bowl sitting down, or they can mimic the typical bowler’s motion.
While these interactive systems are fun and games, researchers are taking them seriously. One pilot study shows that people with Parkinson’s disease who played Nintendo’s Wii a few times a week for a month experienced improvement in their symptoms. Rigidity, movement, fine motor skills and energy levels all improved and most saw depression levels decrease to zero.
In Scotland, a study is under way involving people over age 70 to determine if their balance might be improved and risk of falling might be decreased with regular use of Wii Fit. Another study is using the Wii and a game called Dance, Dance Revolution, which gets people moving to musical and visual cues, as therapy for those who have had a stroke.
Mayo Clinic therapists already are convinced of the benefits for some patients. They say playing interactive games might be useful in improving balance, eye-to-hand coordination, problem-solving skills and social interactions.
Source: Mayo Clinic