Wiihab anyone? How accessibility across devices could be a life saver

Before Christmas we were contemplating getting my boyfriend’s Mum a Wii. She’s 64, suffers from fibromyalgia, loves her exercise and can’t always get out. The fibromyalgia also means that she find’s it tough to remember otherwise simple things (I can identify with her there) and as a result she craves mental exercise too.

We looked into getting her a Wii Fit thinking that this could be perfect for her; something to do in the house, much more engaging than just dull repetitive exercises that the doctor ordered, and also something that would get her used to technology.

Wiihab, using Wii Fit to help in the rehabilitation of people with physical problems, has become increasingly used in hospitals, old age homes and rehab. Rather than put people through mind numbingly boring and often painful exercises the Wii is perfect for doing those all important exercises whilst at the same time taking your mind of the pain. So far it has proven to be a hit with people suffering from Multiple Sclerosis, brain tumours, strokes and much more.

What I particularly love about it is that grand parents can do this with grand children and use it as a fun thing. I remember all to well visiting my grandpa as a child when he was ill and being quite daunted by the amount of medical equipment he was having to live with; having a Wii to play with would have removed a lot of the awkwardness and made his house feel less like a hospital ward. More recently, my friend’s sister, who is just 38 and a Mum of three, had a stroke. After mentioning the Wii to her she is now able to play with her kids and hang out with them thanks to a spot of Wiihab making it not only a great way to exercise but also to break down the fear factor of illness.

I’m off to the Future of Social Networking W3C workshop in Barcelona today and will be speaking about Social Networking: opportunity and risk for disabled and older users across devices. I’ve been having interesting chats with my team about Wiihab and social networking, especially with my colleague Lawrence Eng who does an amazing job looking after our users asking people what they want and researching existing and new features for the browser. As part of my talk I’ll be discussing how accessible social networks can, and are, being used in medicine and in particular looking at how a network for people in Wiihab could help patients if they were able to join a group, share scores, motivate and support one another. This would also be a great way for carers and doctors to stay in touch with the progress that patients make. The beauty of this is that it can all be done using Opera on the Wii.

All this goes to underpin how making accessibility across devices is the way forward. We may all mostly access the web by desktop and then possibly followed by mobile but there are plenty of people who only use mobile (developing countries for example) or may only use a Wii, their TV or some other device.

The video below is a news report from CNET interviewing a doctor in the States and some of his patients who have been using Wii Fit. I don’t have a transcript I’m afraid but have added it to Dotsub in the hope we can crowdsource some transcripts. You can also watch it using Easy YouTube.

Update: Check out Mershon Hinkel’s wonderful blog about Wiihab rehabilitative therepy. Mershon has practiced occupational therapy for over 25 years and is an expert in Wiihab rehabilitative techniques using the Wii and other interactive devices. She is also interested in hearing from others around the world who may be working or have experience in this area.

6 thoughts on “Wiihab anyone? How accessibility across devices could be a life saver

  1. This is great stuff, Henny. Nintendo really hit on something using such physical interaction. Just goes to show what an innovative, engaging interface can do for people.

  2. It sure does, and a great example of how people can crowdsource a technology for use in a way that the vendor never thought of.

    Checked the domain wiihab.com to see if it was available but alas…I wonder if whoever got it will do something positive with it.

  3. Thanks for this post. I would be very interested to hear what some of your international colleagues think about wiihab and whether or not it is picking up as a trend in countries outside of the US. I am an occupational therapist (OT) in Pennsylvania who uses “Wiihab” with my patients. I agree that it is a fantastic inter-generational activity that grandparents and grandchildren can do together. Another great aspect is that older people who may no longer be able to play sports they used to love (such as tennis or baseball) can try the Wii versions and have a great time doing it.

  4. Mershon, thanks so much for stopping by and saying hi – really good to hear from someone who is doing so much in the field reading about it in your blog.
    I’ll be following up this post with news from the social networking workshop and would love to hear more about what you are doing. Really look forward to having more chats about this.
    A quick question: are any of your patients into any types of social network and could you see a future for tying these into rehabilitation programs as described above? As someone with experience in this areas I’d love to know what you think.

  5. Hi Mershon! I have been trying to reach you. We would like to do a newsletter about Wiihab and would like to invite you to be a guest. Could you please contact me at heidi at pediastaff dot com?

    I am not very proficient at the blogging network so I hope this is the best way to reach you.

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