Today was the first day I tried using the WiiFit balance board and the WiiFit programme with patients. Their responses were interesting…two of the group of seven didn’t want to know about it ‘I hate computers and computer games’ they said. Three of the group were really keen – and one especially (more about that shortly).
And the pain management team members? Couldn’t get two of them off it tonight!
At the moment, the WiiFit project is at the point where I want to see how people respond to the new technology – I’m using it within the three week interdisciplinary pain management programme, not as a ‘fitness’ or ‘rehabilitation’ tool, but as a fun and leisure activity (similar to the way we get the group members to play cricket, croquet, lawn bowls and table tennis).
Initially I just want to see how this group of patients, who are ‘typical’ chronic pain patients, respond. They’re mainly aged between 30 – 55, mixed gender, pain duration of between 12 months and 15 years, mixed pain sites although mainly low back pain, and funded by both accident/compensation and medical/health sources.
I especially want to see whether patients enjoy this type of activity; whether it does help them exercise for longer than our regular exercise circuit (and increase their heart rate to a ‘working’ rate); and whether they have any particular problems with the technology. I’m also curious about how people who may ‘over-do’ activities (ie, those that don’t readily stop when it might be helpful for them to do so) manage with the competitive elements of the programmes.
In time, I’d like to see whether the WiiFit balance board can be used for people with CRPS in the lower limb, because of the weightbearing and weight-shifting aspects of many of the WiiFit activities.
So, today’s experience was fun. Two of the partipants were pleasantly surprised by their skill in the ‘one leg balance’ activity. This involves standing on the balance board on one leg, for 30 seconds, while the balance board records the balance shifts. One woman in particular was really surprised because she thought her leg was very unstable, and that her balance was poor. She scored 86% with that leg and was the top scorer!
The two who really didn’t like the idea of the Wii at all were more concerned about interacting with technology than the exercise component – so it may be important to consider familiarity with computer-based technology when thinking about using the Wii in rehabilitation.
On the Burwood Hospital site there are now three Wii units – one in Spinal Unit, which is being used as part of rehabilitation, one in the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Service which is being used mainly for patient recreation, and this one in the Pain Management Centre which is going to be used for rehabilitation.
I’ll keep you posted on progress over time – any thoughts you have about how it might be used in pain management, or things you think might be interesting to research, let me know! I hope to set up a more formal research project in early to mid 2009, so be quick!