Whilst there is currently limited research promoting the use of the Wii within therapy, it should not be dismissed as a tool that can be used within therapy sessions. This page suggests beneficial ways of using the Wii Console within therapy sessions. Currently due to the lack of research the console is being used as an activity to complement conventional and evidence based treatments as opposed to being used as an independent treatment.
Motivational tool – Whilst the Wii offers excellent opportunities to explore active movement and facilitate the development of improved movement it can also be used with great success to distract from other activities during physiotherapy e.g. A patient working on sitting or standing balance who has reasonable use of upper limbs can use the Wii as an activity to help develop dynamic balance.
Two different levels of ability – It is very easy to engage two patients at the same time using the same game even if they have different levels of ability. It is important to choose the right game for such competition, but if successful helps motivate those using the console to work harder due to the competitive nature of the activity. This especially works well when using the console with young adults or children.
Use of a splint – By using a splint to secure the WiiMote and Nunchuk to the patients wrist it is possible for those who do not have sufficient grip or dexterity in their hands to access games requiring upper limb movement. Using the Wii console can be a great way of achieving reasonable levels of cardiovascular exercise which can sometimes be difficult for those with poor movement. For more information see resources page.
Use of an adapted WiiMote – It is possible to adapt the WiiMote so that the buttons are external to the controller and can be accessed by pressing a ‘remote’ button (attached with wires). This allows a patient to control, with more focus, on the pointing of the cursor without the cursor moving at time of selection (when the A button has to be pressed). The external switches also work with the splint to enable those with limited movement to navigate around the games independently. For more information see resources page.
Sit down on the Wii Fit Board – So long as the Fit Board is placed on a flat surface and the patient has sufficient support (as assessed by therapist) a handful of games can be played in a sitting position. Whilst the success of this method largely depends on the initial positioning of the patient, it is a useful tool to enable the patient to better appreciate body positioning, control of upper body movements, spatial awareness and proprioception. For more information see the Wii Fit Game information.
Work on tasks requiring sequencing – Many of the games require a sequence of either buttons to be pressed or actions to be made by the user. An example that most will be familiar with is that of Wii Sports – Bowling : to bowl the user must follow a series of actions involving pressing the button, lifting the remote and swinging through whilst releasing the button at the correct moment.
Simulation of activities – Such games as Cooking Mama, Wii Music and of course Wii Sports take an everyday activity and make it virtual, removing the risk of dropping hot fat (cooking mama), or having to buy a drum kit (wii music) or experiencing the frustration of not being able to carry the weight of a bowling ball (wii sports).
Use wrist weights – By wearing an extra weight around either wrist it will make the upper limb work slightly harder with regards to the fine control or gross movements required to control the remotes.
Improving reaction speeds – A wide selection of games are available that require either quick thinking, or quick initiation of movement to be successful. For patients working on improving their speed of movement, following a visual prompt, the Wii is a fun way of doing so.
Using the Save Data function on the Wii – This function is useful on two levels. Firstly to unlock areas of the game that are inaccessible before completion, but have therapeutic benefits. The long winded method of unlocking such levels/games is to play the game in its entirety that can be difficult ‘at work’. The alternative is to transfer the data from a console that has completed the game to the work console following the instructions on Nintendos website. You just need a SD card (secure digital card) and the instructions. The second use of this function is to allow patients who use the Wii regularly at home and during rehab to bring in their own data, use the game with therapist support and input, then take the game home to continue working on, with the data, abilities and scores stored on their own personal game console. If you would like either more information about how to transfer data or would like a copy of completed and unlocked games, please email.
Work towards improving Dexterity – By focusing on the more basic games it is possible to work on the control needed to hold or grip the controllers along with the ability to press the main buttons A or B.
Stretch limbs before using the console – The Wii works by the user performing a movement at whatever speed, direction or strength that either they are able or the game requires. This movement is performed without the resistance that is normally present when, for example, swinging a tennis racket to hit a ball, or swinging a punch to hit a bag. As a result of this lack of resistance the muscles and joints can respond differently and be vulnerable to injury. Stretching beforehand will help prevent cold muscle injuries.
Rest during use – It is very easy to overdo the exercise when playing the Wii. There are many reports of injuries occurring through the overuse of the WiiMotes and those working with the console within therapy sessions are no exception. The nature of the games and the console make it easy to want ‘just one more go’. The console itself gives prompts to the user to rest and it is advisable to follow such advice.