Lower Limb Therapy

This section offers a selection of ways that the Nintendo Wii can be used to promote and improve a variety of lower limb movements and skills.

Exercising lower limbs with the Nintendo Wii can be done in several different ways and is flexible enough to suit people with a variety of abilities.

The first two ways require the use of a Wii Fit Board. Exercising the legs can either be achieved by standing on the Fit Board or by sitting on a flat surface with just feet on the Fit Board. How these two methods can be used to exercise legs is as follows:

In Standing  Many of the games that use the Fit Board will require and demand a certain level of work from lower limbs. How much depends on the actual activity coupled with how much you are prepared to work. Games include step ups, performing a running motion, squats and similar leg exercises or just control of shifting body weight during balance exercises.

In Sitting For those where step ups, stepping and general exercising is a little too aggressive to be performs in standing the Fit Board can be used from a seated position, with feet resting on the board. It is still possible to perform the step up exercises, balance games and other activities whilst sitting. This method is idea if you have limited movement or have been unable to exercise for a while. The small amount of movement that you are able to achieve through this type of exercise will help increase blood supply and slowly strengthen muscles until you feel more confident.

The alternative way of exercising the lower limbs is without the Fit Board:

Using Hand Controllers If you are wanting to exercise your legs, but not wanting to use the fit board then you can opt for exercising whilst just using the controllers. There are fitness games available that focus on a variety of exercises including lower limb strength that don’t require the Fit Board.

Assessing balance  Testing ability and assessing balance/lower limb ability, in order to measure improvement, is a challenge, as currently the games available do not offer the details required for therapists to quantify outcomes and use as a measure.

The closest objective measure within the software is part of Wii Fit and can be found in the ‘balance test’ option. You access 2 out of 5 tests randomly and cannot repeat them. For more information see the Wii Fit game details.

Lower Limb Movement  The use of the Wii fit board does offer the opportunity to work on lower limb movement although it isn’t perhaps as varied as lower limb exercises without the Wii it can be beneficial to help with motivation. Games that encourage movements include Wii Music Drum mode (Wii Board used as pedals), Wii Fit Muscle exercises encourage strength, Wii Fit balance games – Ski Jump & tight rope require user to squat encouraging knee and hip flexion combined with balance.

Weight Transference  Whilst the Wii Board offers great opportunities to work on balance it offers the same number of opportunities to work on the control of weight transference in standing. Once balance skills have been established control of weight transference in an important skill to develop and can be explored using ski-ing based games or the balance games within Wii Fit. The We Ski games offer more flexibility to work on weight transference as the session can be much longer and is not restricted by failure to complete a game as with Wii Fit.

Top Tips…..when working to exercise the Lower Limbs

– Warm up before using the Wii always warm up and stretch your muscles and joints so that they are ready for the imminent exercise.

– Raise the height of the balance board to make the step ups higher making your quads work harder.

– Add weights to your ankles to add extra resistance to your muscles, taking the exercise to a more challenging level.

– If you are not keen to purchase games to help you exercise it is possible to play other games but in a posture that makes the leg muscles work harder than if in a sitting posture.

Examples of such postures would be to adopt a ‘Squatting posture’, standing on one leg, Sitting in ‘long legged’ sitting to achieve stretch whilst playing or ‘high kneeling’. These postures will demand heavily from your legs and muscles and should therefore only be kept for sensible lengths of time, perhaps alternating between them during your game play.

Games: There are a good selection of games available that can help work on leg exercises. Information about other games that can be used to exercise legs can be found in the games blog.