Playing Nintendo Wii Games as Multiple Sclerosis Therapy

Jake Crest Health Guide
  • Right after Thanksgiving I wrote a piece titled "Wheeeee!!!" in which I stated that Mandy and I succumbed to Wii madness, purchased one of the video game consoles, and planned to delve into the world of Wii, Miis, and daily fitness tests. We guessed that perhaps, because of the physical nature of Wii gaming, playing Wii would actually prove beneficial to Mandy who, like so many others, suffers from Relapsing-Remitting MS. Now, after a month of playing, we believe that we were correct and that Wii is proving itself well worth the investment. At the risk of being a commercial for Nintendo, I'm going to plow ahead and talk about our experience to date.

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    When you buy Wii it comes with a Sports Games disc. There are five games on the disc from which to choose: Tennis, Bowling, Boxing, Golf, and Baseball. Each game requires a level of physical and mental control over one's limbs. Mandy started slowly and, believe it or not, tired easily after playing just a few of the different games. I could tell, right from the start, that she was intrigued, though. She liked playing. I've heard her tell others that while MS robbed her of the ability to play these games for real, Wii has changed all that and allowed her to get back in the action, play the games, and perhaps most important, feel good about herself and her abilities as she confidently increases her ranking within each game category.

    I'm a web designer and, like other freelancers, work from home. I can't tell you the number of times I've been working on a project only to hear my wife playing Wii in the other room, groaning when the opponent knocks down her Mii character and the count to KO begins. I listen and hear "1-2-3-4-5---whoaaaaa!" as her character struggles to its feet, ready to continue the match. This is usually followed by a "yeahhh!" from my wife as she launches into a series of punches designed to pummel the boxer who almost knocked 'her' out.

    I mention Mii characters, but did not explain what that means. When you play Wii, you are given the opportunity to create one or more characters, each called a Mii, that will represent you in the various games. Like most, we've created characters for each of us, plus others for friends that come over to play, kids that visit, and more. It's kind of funny too. When you play games, like baseball, in which you control an entire team, the members of your team normally turn out to be the various characters that you've created!

    After a month of playing, Mandy is now at 'pro' level in at least two of the five games. It takes constant progress and a mastery of the games to move up to 'pro' level. Mandy has achieved that level, something that she would never have guessed possible when we first got the game only one month ago. She may not be able to lift and throw a real bowling ball, but she can haul a Wii bowling ball down the alley with the best of them. We've even had friends over to go 'bowling' with us, after which they ran out and purchased their own Wii games.

  • Christmas saw a few new Wii games under the tree, gifts from our kids. So now Mandy and I are shooting ducks, spinning hoops, and throwing basketballs while playing carnival games, not to mention playing ping-pong, fishing, riding bulls and such in some of the other games. These sound like trivial things, but when MS robs you of the feeling in your legs, or your arms are weak and the feeling in your fingers not quite what it was just a week or two ago, practicing, and achieving mastery over these games can make all the difference in the world.

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Published On: January 02, 2009