Tonight
57°
Partly Cloudy
3%
Tomorrow
77°
Partly Sunny
6%
Tomorrow Night
60°
Chance Rain Showers
55%
Monday
67°
Rain Showers
80%
Monday Night
48°
Rain Showers Likely
72%
Tuesday
55°
Rain Showers Likely
56%
Tuesday Night
40°
Chance Rain Showers
43%
Wednesday
50°
Chance Rain Showers
30%
Wednesday Night
37°
Partly Cloudy
8%
Thursday
58°
Mostly Sunny
7%
Thursday Night
46°
Partly Cloudy
17%
3 Day
Extended
Friday, February 29th, 2008

Wii ♥ therapy

By Shelley Grieshop

Carl Dirksen of Celina is assisted by his therapist as he makes his bowling appr. . .

ST. MARYS - Alice Kittel's hand wraps tightly around the white Wii remote as the fingers on her other hand push the buttons like a video game warrior.
With a hospital therapist beside her, the recent stroke victim raises her arm toward the 5-foot-wide television screen and watches her imaginary bowling ball take a disappointing curve to the left.
"The back swing is good for me, I really feel it in my shoulders," she says, as she slowly brings herself back to a straight position in her wheelchair.
Kittel of New Bremen is trying out a new type of therapy at the Inpatient Rehab Unit at Joint Township District Memorial Hospital in St. Marys. Therapists at the hospital are encouraging their patients to use the popular Nintendo Wii, which is finding its way into rehabilitation centers and nursing homes across the country.
Most Wii video games require use of the whole body, balance and hand-eye coordination as players operate a remote and/or a second controller called a nunchuk. Gamers hold onto the controller(s) and simulate their "Mii" player on the screen by throwing a bowling ball, batting a baseball or imitating whatever activity is being played.
The beauty of the Wii, as therapists see it, is that most patients with injuries or illnesses can participate and benefit from the challenge.
"We can modify the games to whatever the patient needs," says Amy Wellman, an occupational therapist. "This is so good for motor coordination. It also uses a lot of cognitive (skills) to push the buttons."
Janet Wolford of Spencerville is recuperating from a total knee replacement surgery, and for the first time in her life she is bowling. It was the last thing she thought she'd be doing while in the hospital, she says with a grin.
"It's interesting and fun, a bit more intriguing than I thought it would be," she says.
Her opponent is Celina resident Carl Dirksen, who recently suffered a head injury. Although golfing is his true hobby, Dirksen appears a pro as he scores a spare nearly every frame. He's a bit unstable in his gait, so a therapist follows closely behind him as he makes a full approach to the television screen.
The therapists say their patients are getting much more than a workout with the Wii. It's a psychological boost, too, they believe.
"When they're doing something fun, they tend to forget about their pain and anxiety. It really takes their mind off it," Wellman says.
The Wii remains a hard-to-find item in stores. Hospital officials were on the lookout for one for months before 11-year-old Derek Moore of Delphos decided to donate his Wii system to the hospital's transitional unit. The youngster's mother is a nurse manager at the hospital.
Occupational therapist Shawn Kill, the obvious gaming guru of the therapy department, says he'd like to obtain a soon-to-be released Wii game that involves riding imaginary ski boards and whirling hula hoops. It could be a real aid to his patients who need help with peripheral vision and balance.
Kill says he wouldn't be surprised if Nintendo began developing games geared exclusively for rehab patients or anyone challenged with disabilities. Then it dawns on him that his idea could be a successful marketing plan and perhaps he's in the wrong business.
"Maybe I need to talk to somebody about this," he adds with a laugh.
Additional online stories on this date
Brian Hoyng faced life with a smile and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Although a freak accident robbed him of the ability to talk, the looks that crossed his face spoke volumes. [More]
COLUMBUS - For Coldwater, it was the start the team wanted.
For Versailles, it was a quick exit for part of its contingent.
Coldwater seniors Tyl [More]
Subscriber only stories on this date
Celina to help fund Ohio coal-burning power station
Three vie for Republican nomination for 5th District
Mercer County chamber recognizes area residents
Rockford woman is one of five arrested on drug charges
Leaping through the years
Officials await word on grant
Bomb threat at Mississinawa Valley school investigated
Changing faiths is common practice
Carter the top story of state tourney
Strong local contingent named all-district