The UMDNJ case study, namely "Use of a Low-Cost, Commercially Available Gaming Console (Wii) for Rehabilitation of an Adolescent with Cerebral Palsy," focused on use of the Nintendo Wii for rehabilitation of a teen with cerebral palsy.
The case study of the 13-year-old male with spastic diplegic cerebral palsy has shown physical therapy benefits resulting from the use of Wii, a relatively low-cost, commercially available, interactive gaming system.
In a school-based setting, the teen participated in 11 training sessions, over a four-week period, using the Wii while continuing to receive physical and occupational therapy.
The sessions were each between 60 and 90 minutes long and used the Wii sports games software, which offers boxing, tennis, bowling, and golf. He trained in both standing and sitting positions.
"Improvements in visual-perceptual processing, postural control, and functional mobility were measured after training," reported the researchers.
Led by Judith E. Deutsch, PT, Ph.D., professor and director of Research in Virtual Environments and Rehabilitation Sciences (Rivers) Lab in the Department of Rehabilitation and Movement Science at UMDNJ-SHR, the study is the first published report on using the Wii for rehabilitation.
However, there have been many press reports about use of the Wii in clinical settings as well as some scientific articles on the physiological effects of using the Wii.
Taking into account the cost and time delay from development to testing to implementation of virtual reality systems, Deutsch wondered if use of the Nintendo Wii could provide an alternative to the high-cost, high tech virtual reality rehabilitation robotic systems.
"This case study shows that the Wii may give us additional tools to complement the standard of care, perhaps make it more diverse," said Deutsch.
She said that while the Wii complements physical therapy, it will not replace standard of care (traditional) rehabilitation techniques.
She added: "We have a sense that the Wii is going to be useful even though it was not specifically designed for rehabilitation. We're really just learning the system's possibilities as well as its limits."
The study will be published in the October print issue of the American Physical Therapy Association's journal Physical Therapy.