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CNET News Video: Wii-habbing your way back to health
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CNET News Video: Wii-habbing your way back to health

2:36 /

Turns out video games can be good for your health. At San Francisco's St. Mary's Medical Center, a trauma rehabilitation doctor prescribes Nintendo Wii sessions as part of treatment. CNET's Kara Tsuboi takes a look at this "alternative" medicine and meets patients who seem to forget their pain thanks to the gaming fun.

[Music] ^M00:00:04 [Background music] >> For those of us in good health playing the Nintendo Wii or Wii Fit is all fun and games. But here at Saint Mary's Medical Center in San Francisco, one doctor is using it for physical rehabilitation purposes. >> You are not using the walker at all, that's excellent. >> That spark went off in my mind that I could apply this technology to the world of rehab and really like, you now, help patients with their physical deficits. >> It's more fun because I think you don't feel like its therapy. >> Doctor Justin Liu is a self describe techie and the chair of the hospital's Back and Trauma Rehabilitation Department. >> It's something that, where my personal life carried over into my professional life. >> Ever since Saint Mary's Rehab Program began in the beginning of 2008, more than 100 patients with varying degrees of disabilities have been helped. >> The doctor fuses some bones in the ankle. >> [unintelligible] can you see it a little bit there? [voice overlap] Straighten that leg. >> I have had MS for quite some time and this was a stabilization surgery. It really has helped strengthen the left side and helped me with my balance. >> Because of the challenges that the game is putting forth and then the over all fun factor, a lot of times the patient completely forgets that, you know, I'm weak on this right side. And so, were really pushing them to use that extremity that's weak without them even knowing it. >> Though we have therapists say patients seem to benefit the most from the Wii Fits balance games, like Table Tilt, Yoga, and Ski Slalom. >> Nice! >> Yes! A win to the Olympics. >> Jamie Weinmen [phonetics] is a mother of 3 and a recent brain tumor survivor. >> So they took a part of it out but my whole left side was affected. >> By playing the Wii Fit she is forced to learn how to shift her weight on the balance board in order to win the game. >> It helped my leg get stronger, it helped me with my balance, and it helped me with coordination. The more you use it, the better you get. And so, your balance gets a little bit better and it kind of gets you excited to do it again, you know because I'm trying to beat my last score. >> Despite these small successes, Dr. Liu suggests a combination of therapies and only using the Wii for rehab with a trained professional. >> You'll want to write off like the newer technology is a fad or what not but I think this is real. >> The only problem is that the Nintendo Wii and Wii Fit are incredibly hard to find. They've been in super high demand ever since they were released, and for good reason. I'm Cara Suvoy, CNet.com. ^M00:02:30 [ Music ] ^M00:02:35

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