Hardcore gamers may be fond of looking down on the Nintendo Wii and things like Wii Fit, but more and more physical therapists are discovering the platform’s genuine medical applications.

Sometimes, surgery is necessary to save someone’s life – or at least to save their health and comfort – but it can be a long and painful road to recovery. Doctors and physicians have been trying to make the rehabilitation process easier on patients for years, so when Wii Fit came along, some of them saw the opportunity to literally make rehab a game, as Lauren Admire writes in Issue 227 of The Escapist.

Since beginning the program in 2008, nearly 200 patients have taken part in this special Wii-hab therapy. Though Wii-hab doesn’t replace traditional methods, it certainly helps break up the monotony of traditional physical therapy exercises. The buttons of the controller help patients with their small motor skills, while the swinging and flicking motions many games employ help with hand-eye coordination. Games that support the Wii Balance Board also assist with balance, core strengthening and even retraining muscles.

Jamie Weinman is a recent survivor of a brain tumor. After her tumor was removed, the entire left side of her body was affected. She’s been using Wii-hab to help with her balance and coordination. “It’s more fun because you don’t feel like it’s therapy,” she reports to CNET, “[Wii-hab] helped my leg get stronger, it helped me with my balance and coordination. The more you use it, the better you get, and it gets you excited to do it again because I’m trying to beat my last score.”

To read more about how doctors and physical therapists are using the Wii to ease the road to recovery, check out “Waggle Therapy” by Lauren Admire in Issue 227 of The Escapist.

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