Local Hospital Using Nintendo Wii as Rehab For Patients

By: Chad Silber Email
By: Chad Silber Email

Re-learning how to walk or use your arms or fingers can take months or even years of therapy.

We learned how a local hospital is using an unorthodox way to get people moving again.

Not so long ago, bowling was a sport Jennifer McCall played leisurely. Now, it's part of her full time job. "Bowling is the one we work on the most because it involves me walking and swinging my arms and having my eyes focused on the screen in front of me."

The Lincoln woman is using the Nintendo Wii to relearn how to use her arms and legs. Two months ago, she contracted Guillian-Barre, an auto-immune disease that attacked the nerve endings in her limbs. "It made it so my muscles didn't want to work properly."

Within days, she lost the use of her arms and legs and was practically paralyzed. After a visit to the hospital to stop the virus, Jennifer went to Madonna Rehab where therapists told her about Wii-Therapy. "I was kind of skeptical at first because I have never done the Wii before."

Rick Haith, Madonnna Rehab Adaptive Sports Programming, says, "If there's a sport, you name it, we can pretty much adapt to it, find ways to adapt and get people back to doing something they love to do."

Haith is Jennifer's Wii-Therapy coach. He uses the gaming system as a tool to confront problems with balance, coordination and range of motion. Haith says, "It's fun. That's the greatest thing about the Wii is a lot of the times the patients don't realize they're receiving therapy, they're just having a good time."

Jennifer is combining Wii-Therapy with other advanced rehab technology to get moving again. Her four daughters are her main motivation. "When I got here, I wasn't able to walk and I'm able to walk by myself and take care of myself and I got to go back home with my children."

A positive ending to a scary story involving a dangerous disease, an uncertain outlook and a simple video game with a new purpose.

McCall adds, "Who knew that bowling could do that."

Therapists believe McCall could make a full recovery within a year.

A fund has been set up in her name to help pay her medical bills and provide for her four daughters while she's unable to work.

If you'd like to donate, please visit any Lincoln branch of Great Western Bank. You can find a list of Lincoln locations by clicking on the link below.

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