One institution using the game system is the Dodd Hall Rehabilitation Hospital, a part of the Ohio State University Medical Center in Columbus. The idea there came from Robbie Winget, who saw a news report about the console's use in a rehabilitation hospital in Canada.
"I thought it was cool that you used your body to control the movement," Winget said.
Unlike traditional game consoles, which are controlled by levers and buttons on hand-held devices, the Wii is controlled by a remote that is able to sense its position relative to a sensor. This allows the console to be controlled with three-dimensional movement and large-body gestures.
Dodd Hall purchased a Wii, and now patients who are recovering from strokes, spinal injuries or brain trauma use the Wii approximately 30 minutes a day, two to three days a week. This comprises only a part of the required three hours of therapy per day for each patient at Dodd Hall.
Winget says that the Wii helps physical therapy patients improve their balance, coordination, upper and lower body strength, and general stamina. Patients use the Wii not just to play games, but also to look up news or other information through an Internet connection. This latter activity helps patients maintain and improve their mental functioning.
Franklin Perry, a 51-year-old stroke patient, uses the Wii to play bowling or boxing games that require full-body movement. He uses the Wii to build coordination and strength in his right side, which was immobilized by his stroke.
"I'm just now getting some movement back," he said.
According to Winget, the Wii cannot replace conventional physical therapy entirely. "It's one more way to meet specific goals associated with therapy," he said.