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Wii-Habilitation at Rezac PT

Who says rehabilitation has to be all work? At Rezac & Associates Physical Therapy in Colorado Springs we believe that therapy should be fun, innovative and personalized to the individual. One of our creative interventions is utilizing the Wii in ways that Nintendo never dreamed. We have over 500 different games, so there is something for everyone that to work on balance, coordination, foot, ankle, knee, hip, core, shoulder, elbow, hand and wrist rehabilitation with life size video and surround sound.

Many studies have shown evidence that it takes 3,000 to 5,000 repetitions of an exercise to develop “muscle memory”. Traditional physical therapy exercises typically involve performing 3 sets of 10-20 reps, at that rate it would take a person anywhere from 50 to 167 sessions to master an activity. Repeating the same exercise over and over can be tedious, but with the Wii, we can select many different activities that develop muscle memory for a specific activity keeping the patient engaged and entertained.

Tom, a patient with a hip replacement, has difficulty bearing full weight on his left leg. He will do weight shifting activities on the Wii Fit balance board for 20 minutes in therapy, but previously would only do 20 reps with a lot of encouragement. Hunter, a 10 year old with Asperger’s Syndrome and bilateral foot reconstruction would quickly be bored with any standing foot control exercises, but would willingly perform up to 30 minutes of activities working on balance and foot control with the Wii.

Russ came to therapy with a long routine from previous therapy for his back, hip and balance following brain surgery. He could barely get through part of the home program and was only compliant with a few exercises. We worked with him on incorporating the elements of all of his home program exercises for balance, ambulation, stepping reactions, core stability and hip control into a handful of exercises on the Wii Fit and became extremely compliant doing all of them daily at home which resulted in significant improvement in his pain and safe mobility. These are just a few examples of patients who have benefited from the Wii in therapy. Our patients love it! They cheer each other on and compete for high scores. It is very motivational.

The Wii is not a substitute for skilled physical therapy. Treatment is still directed by physical therapists who work with the individual patient on proper technique and select specific exercises for their condition to improve their functional limitations. We modify activities for every level of function from the patient who uses a wheelchair for mobility to the high level athlete incorporating dynamic balance surfaces, therapy balls and assistive devices.