Nintendo has been sneaking exercise into their consoles for years. With the advent of the Wii and its games like Wii Sports and, of course, the Wii Fit, video games have slowly been growing into something much more active. Nintendo has even created a pedometer for a new version of Pokémon DS. However, scientists are taking the idea of active video games to a new level, using Wii Sports as a unique treatment for people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Much to this writer’s delight, the therapy is gaining notoriety under the name of Wii-hab.
Presented at the fifth annual Games for Health Conference, researchers from the Medical College of Georgia (MCG) showed how just four weeks of play exacted marked improvements in patients suffering from Parkinson’s at varying degrees of severity. Using games that require finesse in bilateral movement, eye-hand coordination, and figure-ground relationship is an ideal way to help a person afflicted with a disease that impairs motor skills. Playing rounds of Wii tennis, bowling, and boxing three times a week for a month was all the longer it took to see changes.