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Wii Invades the Nursing Home: It’s Not Just for Your Grandkids Anymore!

A Louisiana nursing home has found a new way to get residents up and active: the Wii video game.

The Associated Press reported that residents of Maison de Ville in Houma, Louisiana, may take naps and eat at specified times like at other nursing homes, but things change dramatically when the activities director turns on the Wii. The Wii is a home video game console released by Nintendo that allows user to participate in games using a wireless controller. Although residents may not be as anxious to exercise, they enjoy the games provided by the Wii.

Activities director, Angela Streams, said, “We have trouble getting them to buy into exercise, but in a lot of ways that’s exactly what this is. What they think of as being a game actually is burning calories and keeping their motor skills up.”

“Some of the benefits of the Wii is that you get automatic feedback. It gives them that visual feedback of what’s going on,” said Lauren Vedros-Jones, a physical therapist who specializes in neuro-muscular physical therapy at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center in Thibodaux, Louisiana.

One resident commented, “What I like about it is it’s challenging. I’ll usually play it for a few hours.”

According to the article, Amy Teeple at www.docshop.com says you can burn 78 calories an hour with Wii Bowling; 341 calories an hour with tennis; and 360 calories an hour with boxing.

“If they’re playing the ‘Wii Sports’ and they’re not swinging their whole arm and they’re just swinging their hand, then they’re not going to get any of that cardio activity,” said Vedros-Jones. She also warns users that repetitive small motions can aggravate arthritis.

The favorite Wii game at Maison de Ville is bowling. Another resident is quoted in the article as saying, “I’ve been playing the bowling game for a while and I’ve gotten really good at it. To tell you the truth, I can almost throw a strike every time.”

The most appealing thing about the Wii is that nearly anyone can learn how to play the games. So kids, the next time you go to visit grandmom or grandpop in the nursing home, look out — they might just give you a run for your money on the Wii!