Video games—often regarded as nothing more than mindless entertainment for lethargic kids and teens—are proving to be an effective, new tool to motivate patients to perform rehabilitation exercises. Rehabilitation therapists from the William Randolph Hearst Burn Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center are using the motion-sensitive Nintendo Wii video game console, along with traditional methods, to help patients recover from life-changing injuries.
Patients hold wireless remotes that control actions on screen. Players swing the controller to simulate realistic motions, like swinging a tennis racquet, swatting a baseball for a home run, among countless other motions. For burn patients or any patient with a skin graft, moving and stretching the skin is very painful, but imperative for a successful recovery.
The Burn Center is also employing a special add-on to the Nintendo Wii system, Guitar Hero III. The controller for the game resembles a miniature guitar. Patients strum a bar on the guitar's body and press color-coded buttons that resemble notes. Therapists hope that Guitar Hero will help patients with burns on their hands, arms and shoulders to regain fine-motor control.#