Wii-Hab: How Video Games Can Speed Up Injury Rehabilitation

Wii-hab 08-16-2013When I was younger, getting to stay home from school and play video games was one of the highlights of being “sick” or recovering from an injury. Let’s just say Mario’s next adventure seemed a little more interesting than Macbeth’s.

But now that some video games involve movement, can they be used to help rehabilitate an injured worker?

Rehabilitation patients and providers began considering this once the Nintendo Wii hit the market. Popular games such as Wii Sports get the gamer out of his or her chair and physically moving to play.

The movements involved with using the Wii system are similar to those emphasized in traditional therapy exercise. The major difference, however, is the entertainment aspect. The game serves as an excellent mental distraction, and often the competitive spirit can be enough to overcome pain caused by arm and body movement.

Rehab clinics across the country still use these techniques for their patients. It is effective for soldiers injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. A 2010 workers’ compensation case in Australia centered around the purchase of a Wii Fit with benefit dollars. And last year, Adrian Peterson – the 2012 NFL Most Valuable Player – admitted to using “Wiihabilitation” while recovering from a nasty ACL injury.

With constant technological improvements – such as dance pads, “balance boards” and the Xbox One’s built-in Kinect – the sky’s the limit. Comp providers should strongly consider these techniques to help workers get back to the office faster.

And next time I take sick leave, I’m gunning for that illusive 300 in Wii Bowling.

Source: USA Today

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