Virtual therapy cord injury patients compete in the digital world.

BY NADINE WILSON Jamaican Observer

Sunday, April 01, 2012

THE single bullet that shattered his spine and his dreams of becoming a track and field coach has not stopped 19-year-old paraplegic, Domingo Blake, from becoming a champion in the boxing ring.
Blake, who was shot last year, said he competed in boxing for the first time just two weeks ago, and already he is hooked. The game is even more fun for him, because he gets to compete against his able-bodied physiotherapist in the virtual boxing world created by the Nintendo Wii gaming system.

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The Nintendo Wii is an interactive system that relies on wireless controllers and a sensor bar to capture all of the movements and buttons that players use when using a special remote. It comes packaged with “Wii Sports,” which is based on physical motion. This means that patients must move their bodies as much as possible to mimic the moves that they can see themselves creating in the virtual world on a television screen.

Although Blake was told he would never walk again, the paraplegic has been able to compete in activities such as cycling, boxing and canoeing, thanks to the virtual gaming platform. The youngster is one of two patients with spinal cord injuries who are currently using the virtual reality video game as part of physical therapy to retrain their cardiopulmonary system as part of research being conducted by the University of the West Indies, Mona, School of Physical Therapy (SPT).

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