Innovative Physical Therapy: Using a video game device for more than entertainment

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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – For most people, it’s a way to play games. But at Active Physical Therapy, the Wii is used for a lot more than entertainment.

“And we have the balance board that goes with that or the WiiFit,” said Jeanette Tousignant, Physical Therapist, Active Physical Therapy. “There are some programs built into that gaming system that are very basic that really make a difference for somebody to kind of learn how to coordinate with what their vision reflexes are saying and what their muscle and joint information is giving them to help them keep their best balance and reduce their dizziness.”

Tousignant tells us balance and dizziness vestibular disorders comes from a miscommunication between the brain, brain steam and middle ear.

The way the exercise with the Wii works is having the patient on the balance board. Using that board, they have to guide balls into dropping through a hole.

“Every time he shifts his mass, left or right, forward or backward, he’s getting a visual representation of where he went,” said Tousignant. “So for somebody who has a hard time ingesting what they are seeing to help drive their balance for efficient shift. This is a great way to get multiple opportunities to slightly go off balance and then resume balance. Because we don’t have to use the extremes of our balance system until we are actually in the act of losing out balance. so he have to figure out a way to train where somebody is getting maximum exposure to loss of balance events that will regenerate the recovery of balance events without giving them the opportunity to get hurt or fall.”

Tousignant graduated from physical therapy school in 1989 and since then, she says the evolution of technology has really helped her and others in this field.

“To really help us understand what the inefficiency is for that patient,” said Tousignant. “So using some of the equipment that we’ll see today wasn’t available for me twenty years ago when I started doing this. makes it a lot easier for me to help somebody because of those advancements.”

For more information on Active Physical Therapy, click here.

This story is part of a three-part series on innovative parts of physical therapy. The first part is on aquatic therapy and the second part is an introduction to vestibular issues and another device used to help solve issue.

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