Cerebral Palsy

Cerebral Palsy can be explained as a bleed, clot or injury to the brain before the developmental milestones have been reached. The damaged caused to the brain as a result leads to complications regarding the development of movement, sensation, emotions and cognition.

Therapy focuses on different priorities depending upon the age and severity of the Cerebral Palsy. During the early years emphasis is put on facilitating the development of normal movement, following the pattern of developmental milestones to maximise potential, whilst maximising range of movement and encouraging the development of active control of movement. Once into adolescence therapeutic focus changes slightly to ensuring maintenance of function, posture and range of movement alongside encouraging accessible activities through interests, hobbies or sport.

The Nintendo Wii is a great activity that is engaging, accessible and has many physical benefits. The use of adaptations increases the scope within how and with whom it can be used. Because of its flexibility and the level of physical requirement needed to play some of the games it is possible for two people with completely different physical abilities to compete against each other on a level playing field. This allows those who might not be able to play ‘real’ tennis (for example) to play against someone who does and have as much chance of winning, offering a great sense of participation and achievement.
The variety of games available for the Wii enables increased accessibility and contributes to maintaining the interest in the physical exercise needed in many games.

There are many ways in which the Wii can be used by those with Cerebral Palsy, with suitability of activities and games being largely dependent upon the available physical ability of the patient. These include general fitness, fine motor skills, co-ordination, sitting and standing balance, upper limb movement, reaction speed and dexterity to name a few.

The Wii can be used with other therapeutic activities as a distraction or it can be used as a reward at the end of a session. It can be used recreationally in spare time or at home, ultimately increasing the amount of physical activity that is being accessed.

Using the Wii shouldn’t replace other physiotherapy techniques, it provides an excellent alternative and is effective in encouraging physical exercise out side of a physiotherapy session but it should aim to be used in conjunction with other activities in physiotherapy or used specifically to work on achievement of physiotherapy goals rather than just a ‘recreational’ activity.

Its easy to ‘over do’ it without knowing, commonly causing aching muscles and increased fatigue. It is important to warm up and stretch if the session is anticipated to work the patient to their physical limits to avoid injury.

Damage to equipment can occur if the console is used without care. It is important to use the wrist straps at all times, return game cd’s to their cases and position players a sensible distance from the television or screen.

It is easy of patients to get frustrated if not familiar with game or cant do it. This can lead to disinterest in using the Wii and consequently miss out on some of the beneficial aspects.