Wii Fit Use in Geriatric Hospitals

“Wii Fit” by Nintendo has become a very popular selling game since its release in 2008.  The game sounds incredibly promising— getting in shape, losing weight, or rehabilitating merely by playing a video game?  It sounds too good to be true, and there are many questions behind it—does it actually work? Who is it made for? What was the thought behind it?  Nintendo has created specific workouts such as yoga, aerobics, and even strength exercises.   Through movements with the “Wiimote” and by using the “Wii Balance Board,” you are able to exercise while having fun and playing a game.  The fun aspect of “Wii Fit” is the most prominent factor in its sales.  In most people’s minds, working out and exercising is the last thing they want to do, but because “Wii Fit” is also made to be fun, it gives users that extra motivation they need.  Over the next few weeks I will be doing research on “Wii Fit” focusing on the points of who it is intended for, the science and thought behind it, and most importantly, does it really work.


“Interactive virtual reality Wii in geriatric day hospital: A study to assess its feasibility, acceptability and efficacy” is an article from Geriatrics and Gerontology International focusing on using “Wii Fit” to rehabilitate the elderly through different movements and testing its feasibility among elderly people.  The study was conducted in a geriatric hospital in Hong Kong, China, and patients were recruited based upon if they met certain criteria such as their ability to follow instructions, their vision, and other aspects that may hinder the study.  The exercises consisted of wrist, elbow, and shoulder exercises and acted similarly to the arm ergometer, which is the traditional arm rehab device used in the hospital.  To compare the two, they took measurements of the maximal heart rate reserve (%MHR), the Borg perceived exertion scale (BS), and the Functional Independence Measure (FIM).  Through testing, they found that there were no substantial differences between the use of “Wii Fit” and the use of the arm ergometer.  Thus, this proved that use of “Wii Fit” is certainly feasible and is effective.  83% of patients said that they wished to continue using “Wii Fit” as a means of rehab.  This evidence certainly proves the fact that in the case of elderly rehabilitation, “Wii Fit” is definitely practical.


Nintendo’s “Wii Fit” has many questions surrounding it, whether it is its audience, its uses, or its reliability.  The most prominent question in my mind is whether or not “Wii Fit” is a viable source of exercise and rehabilitation.  Playing videogames as exercise is the definition of a contradiction.


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3 Responses to Wii Fit Use in Geriatric Hospitals

  1. kaitlynnicole1 says:

    I think asking the question, “Does Wii Fit actually work?” is an interesting topic. Being an athlete myself, I would not immediately think that playing a game could ever be a true supplement for “real” exercise. However, your post is making me rethink that and has me curious about what you uncover in your research. I liked that your source was a study, because it provides evidence that for at least one demographic (older people) and one purpose (rehab) the Wii Fit may work. Your topic seems pretty focused as is, and it really does sound quite interesting!

  2. Pingback: Fall 2012 Topics | The Rhetoric of Gaming

  3. Hi Logan,

    I wrote on a similar topic last year. I think your focus is interesting, but it might be interesting to include a few of the following ideas:
    1. What is the alternative to Wii-hab with geriatric patients’ rehab? How do the results compare?
    2. How safe is Wii-hab for these patients?
    3. How does the Wii’s price compare to traditional therapy? Does this have any effect on its use outside of a traditional therapy setting (a bit leading I know, my bad)?
    4. Therapy itself is a very patient specific science. How easily modified is Wii-hab?
    I personally believe that these are all points you can easily incorporate into your analysis of Wii-hab as a potential therapy tool.

    A problem you will encounter is a fairly limited supply of sources. I had to rely heavily on sources from PubMed and Lexis Nexis. In addition, because of my lack of sources I sought out 2 physical therapists for interviews. My interviews were extremely helpful, but took a lot of planning. If you find that source appealing, get a jump on it soon.

    Another problem that I foresee is your focus on geriatrics. You may be getting too specific on an already narrow topic. You might be able to pull it off, but I would seriously consider branching out to a broader group of patients.

    Good Luck!

    Chris Connolly

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