Wii-hab Makes Therapy Fun & Games

PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) -- Going through rehabilitation is never easy but one Region 8 hospital is turning it into fun and games.

"You kind of get the hang of it after a while," said Alline Wheeler as she threw a strike bowling.

Wheeler is one heck of a bowler these days...picking up pins left and right, playing Nintendo Wii.  But it's not all fun and games, Wheeler is actually using the Wii in therapy at the Arkansas Methodist Medical Center in Paragould.

"I didn't know much about it at first and then they hooked it up and showed me and it's a lot of fun," said Wheeler.

"With simple games like bowling, tennis and golf, we can work on general strengthening, getting our patients moving and tolerating more activity and working on balance and things that can help them be more independent in their life. And it doesn't even seem like therapy, it just seems like they are out here having fun," said Wheeler's occupational therapist Nicola Gregory.

The Arkansas Methodist Medical Center has been using the Wii-habilitation for about two weeks now and so far the results are promising.  Wheeler's shoulder range of motion has increased from 15 degrees to 90 degrees in just a matter of weeks.

"Her endurance increased, she was able to walk. and she's been such a big part of this community that we've been so proud that she's been able to go back to doing some of the things she enjoyed doing before," said Rehab Hospital Program Director Kenna Johnson.

While Wheeler may not have bowled a perfect game yet, this therapy is proving to be a winner for her.

"We've had lots of fun, lots of smiles and lots of laughter and lots of good therapy so hopefully we'll be able to get some more of it in the future," said Gregory.

"I think it's just going to be a fun thing in therapy," said Wheeler.

Right now Arkansas Methodist Medical Center uses Wii Sports in their therapy exercises.  The hospital does an extensive evaluation on all the Wii games before they allow them to be used in therapy.  They are considering purchasing more games in the future.