Rehab is 'Wii-hab' at Mercy General Hospital

12:44 PM, Feb 27, 2010   |    comments
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  • Patients at Mercy General Hospital enjoy playing the Wii video games as part of their rehabilatation.
  • Patients at Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento enjoy the Wii video games for their therapy.

SACRAMENTO, CA - Doctors at Mercy General Hospital are treating some of their patients with a surprising form of rehab.

It's what they call "Wii-Hab." The popular video game is being used in the acute rehabilitation center by stroke patients.

In a recent pilot study in Canada, researchers noticed speedier recoveries and improved motor skills when stroke victims played the Wii games.

Normally, physical therapy seems like work, while playing Wii-Bowl seems like a lot of fun. Therapists said the repitition is helping patients regain strength and mobility and the social aspects of the game also stimulates their brain.

"It's a very simple game, but yet it gets them involved it gets them going it gets them very excited about activity versus it being kind of mundane and work," said David Ferneau, director of rehabilitation. "Because what we do is work. It's difficult for them because they have the impairment, it's not easy. So it is work, but if you can make it fun it makes it a lot easier."

Elk Grove resident Kalei Kema recently suffered a stroke, limiting the use of his arm and leg, and inhibiting his speech. He is a professional Hawaiian singer who mixes in a little ukelele playing with the Wii games.

"More fun," Kema said. "You've got to work hard at therapy but this, you've got to work at this too."

By John Larimore,


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