How To Make Games Therapeutic

Working in an outpatient rehab facility as an occupational therapist, I am seeing both adult patients and pediatric patients. We have recently gotten a nice TV and the Nintendo Wii all set up in a room for our patients. It is so nice to be able to utilize the various Wii games for both adults and children. I have been assigned to present to all of the staff on how to use the Wii with a therapeutic mind to help play the games. There are many games that require you to move your arms and body to activate the game, which is nice for patients who need to stretch, work on fine motor skills by pushing buttons, visual motor skills by following the character on the screen and of course balance with the Wii Fit and We Ski games. The balance board is really nice because it challenges a child or adult to focus on something else and then also use their core muscles to maintain their balance while playing the game. As therapists, we always stand close by the patient to make sure they do not fall or get hurt.

I worked with a patient that needed to increase their range of motion in their shoulder on the Wii Sports games. We bowled, and played tennis both of which helped give them stretching and exercise to their shoulder and arm without the boring every day exercises that most patients dread. With kids, I like to work on games that require them to follow directions, listen and watch and use multiple parts of their brain at once to make the game work like Cooking Mama or Wii Music. Usually the kids have fun and do not realize that they are working.

Even playing games like Connect Four are fun because you can work on visual tracking skills, fine motor skills and turn taking with kids. Many times I get parents who tell me their child has difficulty taking turns and playing simple games with 2 or 3 players can help teach a child about turn taking. It is so easy to turn a game into a therapeutic activity when you have that OT hat on and as parents you if your child receives occupational therapy and you are wondering how to do this at home, talk with your OT and ask them what they work on with your child, or even if you think your child needs extra help with fine motor, visual motor, turn taking, following directions or any of those similar skills, think about adapting it into a game.

8 years ago by 0

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