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Johns Hopkins Health - Interactive Video Games Play a Valuable Role in ICU Rehab

Fall 2012
Issue No. 18

Interactive Video Games Play a Valuable Role in ICU Rehab

Date: October 24, 2012


Interactive video game consoles, such as the Nintendo Wii, aren’t just for the family rec room these days. They are popping up in hospitals throughout the country, and at Johns Hopkins, you’ll see them in the medical intensive care unit (ICU), too. That’s because researchers Michelle Kho, P.T., Ph.D., and Dale Needham, M.D., Ph.D., have discovered that interactive video games may help with the rehabilitation of critically ill patients.

“One of the critical challenges long-term ICU patients face is muscle weakness,” Kho says. “Video games not only boost physical rehabilitation but also people’s desire to work harder without fatigue.”

Hoping to make interactive video games a regular part of physical therapy at Johns Hopkins, Kho and Needham tested the video game console on ICU patients, including people on life support. To play the games, patients sat or stood with assistance, if they could. The researchers determined that the use of interactive video games as part of physical therapy appeared safe. What’s more, they believe that activities such as boxing may improve balance and endurance while providing a welcome change from traditional therapy (walking and standing exercises).

“The innovation is using interactive video games as part of therapy in critically ill patients,” Needham says. “It lets patients participate in their own recovery in a unique way.”

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