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Sebastiano pictured playing Wii with Jack Fraser, Physiotherapist Assistant

With a Wii(TM) bit of therapy, rehab patients are more motivated than ever.

The Nintendo® Wii(TM) video game system is not only a teen craze. It has also become a useful tool in rehabilitation therapy. Using a motion sensitive controller, the Wii allows players to simulate real-life activities. This helps improve their balance, strength, motor skills and range of movement.

At 63 years old, Sebastiano Sarracini never expected to become a gamer. But, after a total knee replacement, he found himself virtually tightrope walking, playing sports and using balancing games.

"It's great because I can practice different movements. The Wii has helped my balance and it is great fun," says Sebastiano (pictured with Jack Fraser, Physiotherapist Assistant).

At St. John's Rehab Hospital, people recovering from traumatic injuries, burns, neurological conditions or bone, joint and muscle conditions all use the video game as part of their customized rehabilitation program.

"When patients use the Wii, others cheer them on. It provides a social element that other interventions cannot provide," says Vera Fung, Physiotherapist and Researcher.

By adding 15 minutes of playing time to a patient's traditional therapy program, researchers are hoping to show that there are benefits of the Wii: improved motor skill redevelopment, participation in rehabilitation and satisfaction with the therapy experience.

Research will continue to explore therapy options associated with the Wii that will maximize patients' motivation, while reducing the tediousness patients can sometimes associate with their traditional therapy.