As a crowd of rehab therapists and patients cheered, 73-year-old Herminia Cancel flung an invisible bowling ball and scattered 10 pins showing on a big television screen.
The word, “Strike!” appeared on the screen and the audience roared.
“Shake it, shake it, shake it,” Cancel shouted, wiggling her behind as she sat down in her wheelchair. “That makes three strikes, and, with an arm I couldn’t use before.”
Wii-habilitation is sweeping the nation and patients like Cancel, at the Life Care Center of Orange Park, say it is turning boring, grueling physical therapy into a fun and competitive sport.
The nursing home and rehabilitation center on Kingsley Avenue purchased a Wii Nintendo game system a year ago with five games – bowling, golf, boxing, tennis and baseball.
Wii, the newest home video game released by Nintendo, has a wireless hand-held pointing device that can detect acceleration and orientation in three dimensions.
Throughout the center, patients are talking about it and gathering to watch players compete, said Margery Flanagan, the center’s director of communications.
Therapists said the game has been good for the body, mind and spirit of patients and therapists, who also can tire of the repetitive, monotonous, typical occupational therapy.
“Mrs. Cancel says she’s going to have her grandkids buy her a Wii,” said her therapist, Lakeisha Walker. “She said she’s getting one of these.”
“It’s helped me a lot,” said 80-year-old Oscar Bentley, who said Wii bowling is helping him improve his balance and exercise his arms.
Read all of this very interesting article, listen to a podcast and watch a video of these Wii players in action by following this link. I must say that just a few months ago – around Christmas – I was asking Russ’ grandson what this “Wii” was that he Had to Have for Christmas. I still don’t quite understand it, but after reading this article and a few more just like it, I am certainly going to find out more about it. Maybe Damian will let me use his for a trial run?