Madera Man uses Wii for Physical Rehab

November 16, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Brian Davis suffered major injuries after he and his father crashed in their small plane, back in March. Now he is re-building his body with the help of an unlikely partner.Brian Davis is putting in some hard work, while he plays. The 26-year-old from Madera is a patient at the Leon S. Peters Rehabilitation Center at Community Regional Medical Center, which uses Nintendo's Wii video game system as a physical rehab tool.

But Brian's arrival at the hospital was more heart-racing than any game he's ever played.

In March, Brian and his father were flying in the family's single engine Cessna, when something went wrong.

"About 250 feet off the ground, our engine shut off," said Brian, "Ok, this is it...this is how I'm actually going to go down."

Brian was piloting the plane with his dad, David an experienced flyer, at his side. The father and son crashed near the Madera Municipal Airport and skidded to a stop in a nearby vineyard.

David Davis was seriously hurt suffering a head injury and spinal cord damage. He is still recovering.

Brian shattered a vertebrae in his back. "I couldn't feel my legs. I mean, it was...from here down it was like your legs were asleep."

With surgery and lots of family support, Brian fought back. But for Brian, it was hard to slow down from working at his family's farm and snowboarding on the weekends.

"You just want to know you're ok. So having people always taking care of you...eh...something I could save when I get older I guess."

Occupational Therapist, Monica Denatly thought Brian would be the perfect patient for some Wii-rehab. "Definitely for our younger patients...video games may have been an aspect of their lives before so it's familiar to them and something they might enjoy while they're tolerating our therapy."

When Brian stands on the Wii Fit board, the game assesses his balance and centered position.

Brian must then shift his weight to play the game, all while maintaining balance which helps him improve those skills.

"It distracts me from knowing I'm injured and makes me feel like I'm having fun," said Brian.

Besides improving skills like balance, weight shifting and endurance Wii rehab gives patients and instant progress report in the form of their game scores, and certain bragging rights.

"So they were saying my scores are high here, you should see them at home."

Brian said even after such a close call in a plane, he wants fly again, someday. But for right now, he's keeping his feet firmly planted on a video game platform that's helping him reach that goal, one step at a time.

Therapists at Community Regional Medical Center use "Wii-rehab" on patients of all ages, to work on physical and mental skills after trauma or an accident. Some patients, like Brian, have so much success on the "Wii" at the hospital, they get one for home.




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