Wii-habilitation has Edmonton patients on their toes

Therapists at a rehab hospital in Edmonton are using Nintendo's Wii videogames to treat patients who have movement and balance problems.

Therapists at a rehab hospital in Edmonton are using Nintendo's Wii videogamesto treat patients who have movement and balance problems.

The Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital is using Nintendo Wii in therapy.

As part of Albert Liaw's rehab at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, a boxing video game has him punching into thin air in a battle with an onscreenopponent.

Instead of using a joystick or keyboard, Liaw's onscreen character's actions are controlled by his real life movement.

"When I first played I was in a wheelchair, now I'm standing and I can box normal," he said.

Four and a half months ago Liaw went down in the ring in real life and didn't get up, suffering a brain injury.

Don Simoneau, his occupational therapist, said the fact the game is fun makes what would be painful time go by quickly.

"It was very motivating. We could have him do therapy for an hour and he wouldn't mind one bit. Now when I see him playing today it's incredible to think back to where he was."

Right now the Glenrose is the only rehab centre in Canada using Wii as part of therapy, said Simoneau.

"We try to use activity but there is only so many times you can bat a balloon around back and forth. And only so many times you can reach for a bean bag," he said.