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Wii Hab - Latest Therapy Out of the Box - IB Members Give Back

Posted by Jane Akre
Thursday, August 27, 2009 1:54 PM EST
Category: Major Medical
Tags: Wii System, Physical Therapy, Veterans, InjuryBoard

70 Wii systems are donated by IB members during the month of August.
Burns, Cunningham, & Mackey, firm donates Wii

*Editors Note * During August, 54 law firms belonging to InjuryBoard banded together to donate more than 70 Nintendo Wii gaming systems to rehabilitation centers, nursing homes and hospitals across the U.S.

With a stated mission of Promoting Safety and Protecting Rights, InjuryBoard member law firms are committed to helping people avoid injury with news and information, and to help the injured get the assistance they need to move on with their lives after an accident.

The Wii giveaway is sponsored by the InjuryBoard Foundation, a non-profit organization which acts as the charitable arm of InjuryBoard.com. One of the founders of InjuryBoard, attorney, Tom Young, says this is just the first. “We’re planning child safety seat drives, bicycle helmet giveaways and anything else we can think of to get people the help they need and make our communities safer.”

The InjuryBoard community of consumer and personal injury law firms, hope the event will inspire attorneys everywhere to give back to their communities.


Why Wii?


Wii system increasingly being used for physical therapy

IMAGE SOURCE: Law firm of Burns, Cunningham, & Mackey, an IB partner, from Mobile, Alabama donates Wii to local hospital March, 2008.

IMAGE SOURCE: Wiihabilitation/ USA Today Web site

“I’ve spent a lot of years trying to get back what I have lost,” says Mark Effinger, who suffered a serious brain injury in a car accident 30 years ago.

The former sheet metal worker thought he had improved all he could, until he joined a six-month study on incorporating the Nintendo Wii system into physical therapy (PT).

Bruce Battles, a Western Kentucky University assistant professor in Special Instructional Programs, found improvements among patients in the range of motion, memory, and social skills.

“I see the potential,” he said. “That to me is the most exciting thing.”

Effinger received his therapy at the 21st Century Living/Day/Rehab Services in Bowling Green, one of a number of rehabilitation services, nursing homes, and veterans hospitals that are incorporating the Wii system into therapy.

54 law firms, affiliated with InjuryBoard, have just added to that number, donating 70 Wii systems across the country.


Pronounced “wee,” the system is a Nintendo video game, originally designed for entertainment, but being successfully incorporated into "Wiihabilitation" or "Wiihab" for patients following strokes, broken bones, surgery and injuries.

The Wii ‘s feature is a console with a wireless motion-controller, the Wii Remote, or “Wiimote” which detects motion and rotation on three different planes, involving the body in a variety of activities such as boxing, golfing, bowling, or playing tennis. You can even walk a tightrope.

The same arm swings are required in using the Wii system as would be in doing the actual sport. The colors are bright and differentiated which should help someone with optic nerve damage.

Users can take a “Fitness Test” at different times to measure their progress in areas of coordination, accuracy and speed.

While PT, also called by some as “pain and torture,” can be boring, the Wii blends entertainment and competition with movement so participants don’t even realize they are exercising.

The Wii can be used from a wheelchair. Blogger Diana de Avila uses it for her multiple sclerosis.

Physical therapist Mary Langhenry, writing on the Neurologic and Orthopedic Hospital of Chicago site says, “The incentive for patients is the feedback, motivation, and an alternative to “3 sets of 10”. The incentive for physical therapists is functionality in addition to their hands on and exercise approach.”

Laureen Martinelli, site coordinator for the HealthSouth Center in Wormleysburg, tells PennLive, "It has therapeutic benefits beyond 'straight' exercise. When patients come for outpatient therapy, they've already been through maybe months of conventional therapy. We need different tools to engage the brain, to use new muscles. The graphics of Wii are amazing."

Martinelli says besides a cardio workout, the Wii helps fight depression and can improve perception, focus, balance and a range of motion, which is especially important for physical therapy patients.

Wii system is not marketed for therapy but is being increasingly used in therapy with returning veterans at the Hines Veterans Affairs Hospital west of Chicago, the Lebanon VA Medical Center, and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Wii Donations

The Milwaukee VA Medical Center’s spinal cord injury unit received a Wii system from IB Partner, David Lowe of Jacquart & Lowe, who told WDJT-TV, “Our group felt this was a great opportunity to give back both to help these veterans at the center but also help the therapists and physician who deliver services. “

Veteran Russell Worth says he looks forward to using the system. “It gives us something to look forward to we can do something in a wheelchair we normally wouldn’t be able to do and it makes us feel good we can be competitive again even though we’re not physical.”

The law firm of Cusimano, Keener, Roberts, Knowles & Raley, LLC, donated a Wii system for rehabilitation patients at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital.

The Ferrar Law Firm donated two Nintendo Wii games to the Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper University Hospital in Camden, reports the Philadelphia Business Journal.

“If we can help ease their recovery even slightly by making physical rehabilitation fun, we know we’re making a difference,” said Michael A. Ferrara Jr., InjuryBoard member and managing partner of the Ferrara Law Firm in Cherry Hill.

Steve Lombardi, of the Lombardi Law Firm, donated a Wii system to Blank Children’s Hospital Pediatric Therapy Services Center in Ankeny, Iowa.

Lombardi says, " Our goal in this time of economic recession is to reach out to facilities like the Pediatric Rehabilitation Center of Blank Children's Hospital and help them provide the care that budget realities might otherwise prevent."

Lawsuit Financial Corporation has donated a Wii system to St. Jude’s Hospital in Memphis, TN in memory of Justin Rochkind, the nephew of Mark Bello, owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial.

He tells IB News, “Despite their generosity and gallant efforts my nephew succumbed to cancer at the age of 18 and I would like to give back to them and do my part to help others. Justin loved music, magic, family and life. He and his family were very grateful to St. Jude’s for all it did and tried to do. This gift is the least I can do, on behalf of my family, to honor Justin and to thank the hospital and its fine staff.”

Lansing, Michigan law firm, Church Wyble PC donated a Wii to the Hope Network along with a high-definition television.

“This is a way for them to get their limbs working and to do it in a much more beneficial way, it’s not just lifting weights,” said Devon Glass, an attorney with the firm.

Clay Martin and Tara Helms of Martin & Helms P.C., donated the Wii system to United Cerebral Palsy of Huntsville & Tennessee Valley, Inc., which included the donation of a Wii Fit, Wii Sports, Wii Play, and controllers.

Julie Carden, of United Cerebal Palsey of Huntsville Alabama, tells IB News the new gaming system will be used during physical and occupational therapies with clients of all ages and abilities, including people with Down syndrome, “to incorporate hand-eye coordination, balance, all the things they get in therapy but also it’s fun and interactive.”

“Our members are some of the kindest, most genuine people I know,” stated InjuryBoard founder and Tampa, FL attorney Tom Young. “These are folks who shunned big law firms, prestige and easy money in favor of helping their communities. I am constantly humbled by the commitment our members have to helping injured people. Our hope with events like this is that we can do some good for injured people, from victims of auto accidents to defective products, by helping them get back on their feet. This Wii giveaway is a natural extension of the work our member firms do every day.” #


Anonymous User
Posted by Steve Lombardi
Friday, August 28, 2009 1:28 AM EST

It was very satisfying to donate the Wii and to know it would create a situation where getting better and by the hurting would be fun. Someone told me two nights a week at a nursing home the residents pack into the recreation room to bowl against each other. It’s standing room only because they arrive early to get the best seats. If there are nursing homes or rehabilitation centers needing a Wii, who can't afford one, contact the InjuryBoard or myself in West Des Moines. We'll see what we can do to have one donated. Tom and the rest of the IB staff had a great idea and I for one will be doing it again very soon.

Anonymous User
Posted by Danielle Eiss
Monday, October 19, 2009 9:35 PM EST

To Whom This May Concern:
I am an Occupational Therapy intern working at the Hebrew Academy for Special Children (HASC) in Woodmere, New York. HASC is a non- profit special education preschool or a 501.3C organization. This center based school program serves children ages 3 to 9 who have developmental delays,sensory processing disorders, and diagnoses such as Autism.
I am writing to you concerning a donation of the Wii Nintendo Console to this school. I am practicing to become an Occupational Therapist by the end of the year and I am currently presenting an in-service to all the staff and parents of the school about how the Wii has been beneficial to rehabilitation for children and adults of all ages. The title of this in-service is called "Wii-habilitation"
As you may know, the Wii has been shown to increase physical, cognitive, and social skills in persons of all ages. The children at HASC present with much delay in all of these areas as well as poor eye- hand coordination, visual perception, memory, strength,fine motor coordination,and bilateral coordination. In addition, many of these children have much difficulty with eye contact and visual attention. Most importantly, these skills relate to the ability to tie ones own shoe, get dressed in the morning, zip on/off a jacket, feed oneself,and toilet independently.
It has been shown through several studies printed in the American Physical Journal, the Occupational Therapy Practice magazine, and through the Illinois Occupational Therapy Association that the Wii has improved all of these abilities in children. It is vital that these abilities are corrected at an early age so that the children can grow up to live purposeful, meaningful lives within their community.
I believe that the Wii Nintendo Console will be a useful and adequate source of treatment for these children. I believe that it will keep them engaged in everyday tasks related to school activity. It will allow them to have fun while they grow and develop skills that are needed throughout the rest of their life. In addition, social skills such as turn taking, strategy sharing, and encouragement are emphasized while playing this console.
If possible, we will then put in our community newsletter about the wonderful contribution and publish the benefits these children have displayed through using a higher form of technology. Hopefully, this will inspire the parents and members of the community to purchase the Wii for home based treatment.
Please inform me of your decision or if there is any way I can go about retrieving a Wii console for this non-profit school.
Thank You,
Danielle Eiss
Email: DanielleEiss@gmail.com or Danielle.Eiss@Downstate.edu
Phone Number: (718) 781-4872

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