Turning Rehab Into "Wii-hab" - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

4/10/08-Tyler

Turning Rehab Into "Wii-hab"

We've told you the good--how it's helping senior citizens stay active at nursing homes, and the bad--causing some unique injuries, with even a syndrome named after it. But now, there's another use for the Nintendo Wii--occupational therapy. KLTV 7's Tracy Watler explains how one East Texas rehabilitation center is turning rehab into "Wii-hab."

It may look like nine-year-old Jaylon Caldwell is just playing tennis on the Nintendo Wii, but really, he's undergoing a half hour occupational therapy session at Ellis Rehab Center in Tyler.

"It's motivating, it's fun, what kid does not like video games, they get so into it and they don't want to quit it makes coming to therapy fun," says Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant Ana Olvera.

"It feels like when you hold the controller, it feels like you're holding a real tennis racket," Jaylon describes.

A year ago, Jaylon underwent surgery to remove a brain-stem tumor.  He's been in therapy ever since.

"After surgery, Jaylon was very weak. He had a lot of right-hand, right-sided neglect, balance, coordination issues," says Jaylon's mom, Maxine Caldwell.

And now, he uses the Wii to help strengthen his right arm, and improve his hand-eye coordination.

"It targets that weak side, it targets that hand, that hand eye coordination, so I think it's a great way to also help them improve," Maxine says.

It's a trend that therapists are now using for many of their patients.

"It really targets a lot of areas, especially weight baring, coordination, strength and stability, getting a range of motion, hand and eye coordination and also working on motor planning," Ana explains.

But for Jaylon, it's just another day he gets to play the Wii during therapy.

"I like the Wii, and I wish I had one in my house, but I only got a Playstation II and a Playstation III," Jaylon jokes.

In the short amount of time he's used the Wii, Ana says she has seen improvement in his coordination and strength.

Tracy Watler, Reporting tracy@kltv.com

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