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How can ‘Wii’ enhance the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation?

Janelle York, lecturer and researcher in nursing, looks at using the Nintendo Wii as a form of for pulmonary rehabilitation.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is an effective strategy for managing COPD. Yet, up-take by patients is low and attrition high. There are multiple factors associated with this including a lack of resources, travel issues and patient motivation. For patients who do attend and complete a rehabilitation programme the gains decline after its termination with data suggesting a return to pre-programme levels of quality of life and exercise capacity within 6 to 12 months. Many programmes often fail after rehabilitation because regular exercise at home and healthy lifestyle options are not maintained. So what more can ‘Wii’ do for patients to improve the experience of rehabilitation and maintain its positive effects in the long term?

Well, Christmas is around the corner and, for many children, a Nintendo Wii console will be at the top of the wish list. For many of us with elderly parents or grandparents the question is always “what are we going to buy them this year for Christmas?” Perhaps a Nintendo Wii is the answer. Contrary to popular believe many older citizens are surfing the internet, know how to operate Skye, and are generally IT savvy.  Playing a Wii game could provide both mental stimulation and physical exercise in the comfort of one’s own home.

The use of Wii technology could provide pulmonary rehabilitation programmes with the extra factor needed keep patients motivated in the long term. Being asked to follow an exercise programme using Wii is no doubt more enticing than following exercise instructions provided on paper. Plus exercising with Wii can get the whole family involved in the process and make exercise more fun and less of a chore. Of course there are financial and safety issues associated with this. However, the use of Wii in the rehabilitation of patients following a stroke and in children with cerebral palsy is gaining momentum. So, perhaps for some patients ‘Wii’ can enhance their experience of pulmonary rehabilitation.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas and New Year.

Janelle York, Lecturer and Researcher in Nursing, University of Salford

Readers' comments (3)

  • The use of Wii technology or perhaps Natel I see as of huge potential in rehab. I so agree with Janelle York, todays 'Older citizens' with which I, at 54 'almost' include myself, are more than able to use a Wii and slip surf the net (cant be a silver surfer as Im bald). Im a 3rd year nursing student and doing an assignment on DVT prevention post op. As part of this I wondered if a Wii, or similar could be used to help mobilisation but have found little info to date. Perhaps someone could post assistance. Thanks.

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  • I have been bowling with the Wii for about a year, at our local senior center. I breathe with oxygen 24/7 and have actually bowled a perfect 300 game! Great exercise and fun too.

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  • There is no reason why exercising with the Wii would not have benefits for patients with chronic chest conditions. It could even enhance the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation. It is important to remember that it would not be a substitute for pulmonary rehabilitation as this involves a lot more that just exercise. What would be innovative is to somehow combine the education/relaxation/self management aspects of pulmoanry rehabilitation through the Wii?

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