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Wii Technology as a Possible Tool for Stroke Rehabilitation

Stroke is the primary reason for long-term disability. Physical rehabilitation strategies that are intensive, repetitive, and task-oriented can significantly improve motor function in patients with stroke through encouraging motor learning and neuroplasticity. Repetitive task training that requires the performance of functionally relevant tasks at high intensity levels can enhance transfer ability, balance, lower limb function, and walking speed in patients who have survived a stroke.

A recent study explored how Wii technology could be used as an effective form of stroke rehabilitation due to its alternative form of repetitive task training in an interactive enriched setting. Researchers of the study found that patients with stroke who participated in a Wii game performed an average of 61.9 upper extremity movements and 109.7 weight shifts during a standard physiotherapy session. These results were significantly greater than the 32 repetitions achieved during a traditional physiotherapy treatment session. Moreover, due to the fact that Wii is perceived as leisure, it may be easier for patients with stroke to be motivated, improve cooperation with task-oriented training, and allow for more self-practice outside therapy sessions.

Wii is increasingly used as an alternative strategy in stroke rehabilitation facilities worldwide. However, the effects on patient outcomes following stroke is not well understood. A recent review evaluated the effectiveness and safety aspects of the Wii gaming technology in the rehabilitation of adults with stroke. The review found that adding Wii gaming to conventional rehabilitation in patients experiencing chronic stroke greatly improved physical functioning in regards to the Timed Up and Go (TUG) test and not in other physical measurements tested. Although the effect was small and only showed minimal change, Wii can be implemented safely in patients with stroke and participants’ attendance was more consistent in the Wii group. There is still need for more high-quality studies to prove the efficacy of Wii in stroke rehabilitation.