I’ve recently been overwhelmed by the number of stories discussing the use of Nintendo’s newest creation for “physical therapy”. Some clinicians have found a use for the Wii, especially in patients with neurological diagnoses such as stroke. Unfortunately, these reports continue to blur the public’s image of our profession and what we do.
My guess is that the benefits of using the Wii are based on re-educating motor control through movements like swinging a tennis racket, hitting a home-run, or throwing the bowling ball. My question is what is the carry over? How will this translate into improved daily function and independence?
We know that specificity of training is important. Which is more valuable for most stroke victims – hitting a backhand or gait training? 7-10 splits or Reaching into the cabinets without losing their balance and falling?
Don’t take me wrong, I’m not opposed to incorporating different (and fun) activities into rehabilitation. Physical Therapy should not be packed full of repetitive protocols without incorporation of new and challenging activities. The problem is these things (such as the Wii) should be defined as what they truly are – possible adjuncts to real Physical Therapy. Let’s focus on interventions supported by the strongest evidence possible and avoid leaping for every fad that comes along (look up “Blackberry Thumb”).
If you were the payor (insurance) wouldn’t you question why you should pay for your client to play video games?