Good way to exercise, eh? Casper Star-Tribune Online - Casper
It started off as a means to therapy; now it's an addiction.
Nick Bliss, a resident at Life Care Center of Casper, said he became "addicted" to Nintendo's Wii video game system about three months ago when therapists at the nursing home asked him to try the bowling game to increase his upper body strength.
"I bowled a 241. Now, I am trying to play golf," Bliss said.
He plays about an hour each day perfecting his jabs for boxing or his golf swings. It wears him out to play much longer.
Therapists at the nursing home began using the Wii last fall as a therapy tool and it has "definitely" worked for Bliss.
"I can pull myself up now," Bliss said. "I can do a lot of things for myself. It's made it easier and put my mind at ease."
It helps his balance and challenges his mind. Bliss said he likes to challenge himself in everything he does and the Wii games are no different. He is constantly trying to beat his high scores.
Bliss hasn't been the only resident forming a habit of playing the game. Tim Haley, marketing director at the center, said they had to purchase a second console for the common room because residents wanted to play it more than just the few times a week they had therapy.
Bliss talked Katherine Hinckley out of her room to bowl a frame with him on the Wii. She used to love to bowl when she was younger so she couldn't resist.
"It was hard," Hinckley said. "It was hard on the muscles. When you swing your arm like this, it really gets in your shoulders."
That first time she bowled a 94. The second time she bowled a 114 and she has seen herself improve over the past couple of weeks she has been playing.
Residents look forward to coming to therapy now that they have something new and fun to help them exercise, said Marabeth Kopp, a certified occupational therapist at the home.
She asked the center to purchase a Wii after reading a national article about the benefits of using the game in therapy with geriatric patients. The Wii helps senior citizens with balance,upper body strength, overall endurance, cognitive skills, coordination and following directions.
"Oh, gosh. They love it," Kopp said. "Their families come in and do it with them. Their grandchildren, their spouses. I've brought my daughter in here to play. It's a multigenerational activity."
Residents have gone from barely being able to sit up in their wheelchairs to sitting up straight on a mat swinging their arms to bowl or lift the virtual golf club.
"It gets loud in here," Kopp said. "They don't even realize they are exercising. Then, they get competitive. A 6-year-old is beating them and they think they need to practice."
Practice is exactly what Bliss said he needs to perfect his golf swing.