Tag Archives: exercise

Wii and Similar Active Video Games Show Promise in Kids with Cerebral Palsy

feet of a child with cerebral palsy on a wii board

Children often spend too much time playing video games, but recent research shows that active video games (AVG), such as those played on a Nintendo Wii, may also serve as  rehabilitation therapy for children with cerebral palsy (CP).

Seventeen children with CP took part in a research study conducted by Toronto’s Bloorview Research Institute at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and the University of Toronto. The research team, led by Elaine Biddiss, PhD, tracked the energy, motion, and muscle activity of the children while they played Wii Bowling, Tennis, Boxing, and Dance Dance Revolution (DDR). After the data was recorded, the children completed a survey regarding their enjoyment while playing the games. The researchers then evaluated the intensity of the physical activity and the therapeutic potential of the games.

Wii Benefits Kids with Cerebral Palsy

“Active video games provide a low-cost, commercially available system that can be strategically selected to address specific therapeutic goals,” stated Biddiss. “While our results did not show that AVG game play can be regarded as a replacement for more vigorous physical activity or muscle strengthening, we found that some games may provide targeted therapy focused on specific joints or movements.”

family with disabled son playing wii together

In particular, Wii Boxing and DDR, which require full body movements, provided a moderate level of physical activity for children with mild CP, but the activity was not vigorous enough to build endurance or strength. Games such as Wii Boxing are a good choice for training faster wrist movements, an important therapy for children with CP that commonly experience difficulty extending the wrists.

Kids with Hemiplegic Cerebral Palsy Benefit from Wii

Children with hemiplegia, a form of cerebral palsy that affects the limbs on one side of the body, engaged both upper limbs when playing Wii Boxing and DDR. “Wii boxing, or similar games, may be an effective motivational environment for encouraging increased movement speed of the hemiplegic limb, in addition to the bilateral use of the limbs, because in-game success is strongly linked to these two metrics,” noted Biddiss.

a screenshot from wii boxing

Additional benefits to AVG play include repetitive movement and feedback provided to the player via on-screen avatars and scores. The feedback could promote neuroplastic change (the ability for the brain to reorganize and grow after disease or injury) and the high level of enjoyment reported by the participants also enhances neuroplasticity.

“While not a replacement for structured exercise and physical therapy, AVGs may encourage children with CP to be physically active and to practice complex motor activities. There are many opportunities for further research. Future development and optimization of AVG technologies may usher in a new age in physical rehabilitation where virtual environments provide an arena for neuroplastic change in the comfort of one’s home,” concluded Biddiss.

Cerebral Palsy Kids Benefit from Wii Sports


Image sources:

Christopher Reeve’s Doctor Creates Exercise Bike Aiding Paralyzed


Dr. John McDonald spread hope at the first Missouri Cures Education Foundation in Columbia this past April. McDonald is well known for his work with Christopher Reeve, an actor best known for his role as Superman. Reeve was paralyzed from the neck down after a horse riding accident in 1995.

McDonald created an innovative exercise bike — the RT300 — that uses small electrical pulses (also known as functional electrical stimulation, or FES) to stimulate muscles to exercise that otherwise wouldn’t be able to function. With McDonald’s treatment before Reeve’s death in 2004 from cardiac failure, Reeve had regained much of his normal sensation and was able to operate the exercise bike without electrical stimulation. This success catapulted McDonald as a pioneer in rehabilitative medicine.


McDonald has seen similar recoveries in other patients using activity as the main focus in their rehabilitation. With slow progress in stem cell research, McDonald’s methods offer a step in the right direction towards recovery. McDonald states “most people who have severe injuries are capable of recovery with what they have left.”

Attendants at the event left inspired in their own recoveries including Mike Fredholm of Kansas City who is an incomplete quadriplegic that has limited movement in his arms. He stated he left the presentation “a little optimistic.” Fredholm has used a power wheelchair since a car crash 18 years ago.


Sherline Romph also gained a renewed optimism for her 7 year old daughter’s recovery. Previously she had driven 20 hours round trip to have her daughter work out on McDonald’s bike. After a setback with a skin sore, Romph could not use the bike although she saw some improvement with the ability to move a thumb and sometimes even kick a ball. After McDonald’s presentation, Romph said she was ready to have her daughter get back on the bike.

McDonald’s activity-based therapy is aimed at getting the body to move, reducing things like skin wounds and infections that make recovery longer and less likely. With success stories like that of Christopher Reeve who was completely immobile from the neck down for 5 years after his accident, McDonald continues to gain popularity among those that have limited to no mobility. For more information, see the Restorative Therapies company wesite: https://www.restorative-therapies.com/



Discover These Little-Known — Yet, Surprisingly Effective — Wheelchair Exercises

Keeping your body moving as much as possible should be a priority no matter what your disability. Having a routine and regular wheelchair exercises will help you in so many ways.  You can increase flexibility, strength, improve your mobility, strengthen your heart and lungs, and help you control your weight.

When you first start working out, no matter what your condition, you always want to start off at a slow pace and increase your difficulty as your body becomes use to the exercises. It is very important to take a few minutes to warm up before you begin working out, and a few minutes to cool down when you are done. There are two main exercise techniques you want to focus on in your wheelchair, resistance training and strength training. Resistance training uses large, stretchy rubber bands that you wrap around a sturdy object. (make sure you chair is locked in position) You can use an object such as a door, or the arm of you chair. (make sure your chair is locked in position)

You can also try doing push-ups using your chair which will help increase your upper body strength. Make sure you lock your wheel chair in place, put your forearms on your armrest and use your arms to lift up your body, hold for a few seconds or as long as you can than try again. You can also try this same technique using your hands instead of your forearms.

Another fun thing to try is racing others in your wheelchair, which is a fun way to exercise socially. Try racing other people in wheelchairs or people that run, you’d be surprised how well someone with strong upper body strength can hold their own against a runner.

Lifting ‘free weights’ and or dumbbells is knows as strength training. You can even try using other objects such as cans of food if you don’t have any weights. When first starting such a exercise, you want to begin with something very light and gradually work your way up to heavier objects. Something you can try while you are working out is watching television or listening to music that motivates you. Benefits achieved by strength training help you in everyday life such as pushing your chair (if in a manual chair), carrying items, and transferring in and out of your wheelchair.

Hopefully you will find working out will help you find multiple task easier despite any disabilities. Before challenging yourself with these tasks, discuss with you doctor or physical therapist to find out any restrictions he/she might suggest to avoid from having any potential medical complications.

You can find the wheelchair workout kit described in the video below at www.wheelchairworkoutstore.com