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Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 11:27 EDT

Trainers Using Wii Fit To Rehab Injured Athletes

June 13, 2008

Nintendo’s Wii Fit is finding its way into rehabilitation programs for injured athletes.

Sue Stanley-Green, a professor of athletic training at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, said Wii Fit and other fitness-oriented video games have “great potential” for core strengthening and rehabilitation and may boost compliance with rehabilitation exercises.

“We are looking to incorporate Wii Fit into the athletic training room as far as rehabilitation, for example, on post-operative knees and ankles,” she said.

Rehab centers can benefit from fitness video games that focus on upper body movement patterns. For instance, tennis video games can be used to safely exercise the rotator cuff after injury or repair.

Stanley-Green said fitness-oriented video games are also being used more and more in nursing homes for rehabilitation, providing a fun way to help elderly people expand their range of motion.

Getting patients to perform tedious, repetitive exercises can be one of the most difficult aspects of rehabilitation. The entertainment value inherent in video games may help boost compliance with rehabilitation and perhaps improve outcomes.

“Fitness video games have some really good potential to improve fitness in everyone,” Stanley-Green said.

“My daughter is 12 and she has a friend who is very inactive and overweight and has some body control issues and the Wii Fit has really been a good thing for her,” she explained. “This is a child who would rather eat than anything and it’s the first time I have ever seen her say, ‘I’m not coming to dinner, I’m playing the Wii.’”

Stanley-Green believes anyone can play these games.

“I am illiterate as far as video games but these are games that anyone can have success with. My daughter absolutely hates the fact that I am better at this one balance game than she is,” she said.

However, like any physical activity, too much repetition of one type of movement may not be healthy.

“There are some documented cases of ‘video-game shoulder’ and ‘video-game elbow’, so using the proper form and technique should be stressed,” Stanley-Green noted.

“Of course, ideally use of the gaming consoles should be alternated with other physical activities.”

On the Net:

Wii Fit

Florida Southern College