An Open Letter to Nintendo

Dear Nintendo Wii,

As an occupational therapist, I enjoy your products and have been excited about their potential applications for rehabilitation. I own a system myself, and while experimenting with it, noticed some features that could easily be improved to better suit the Wii's use in rehab. WiiFit, WiiPlay, and WiiSports are the games considered for this review.

Therapists love being able to control and alter activities and the environment to provide the "just-right" challenge for their clients. Wii games would be much more usable by therapists if there was more input to grade the activities. This could be automatic grading within the game, where it would adapt to the skill level of the user, or ability to manually adjust sensitivity, speed, and degree of difficulty for games. Additionally, having either a "low vision/contrast enhanced" option for games or ability to decrease some of the visual stimulation would often be helpful.

In general, it would be more efficient to be able to set up multiple games in Sports or WiiFit prior to a session. It would be best if new profiles and avatars were not required to setup and save routines, since this takes up extra valuable therapy time and is a potential privacy violation. Being able to set a timer for specific games, such as making a 5 minute boxing session, would also assist in achieving aerobic status during activity.

I love the balance board for WiiFit. A user can get an objective report of balance that can be reviewed from session to session, and the devices marketed to rehab professionals for this are MUCH more expensive than a Wii system. But a bariatric board would be very beneficial for those who practice with adults in the hospital or SNF. Also, an optional bar to provide support while standing would be appreciated by many adults while they are trying to feel secure in standing. I don't know if the hardware could be altered to allow for better tests of sitting balance while the board was supported on an adjustable mat, but this is a common intervention for a neurological population who would likely appreciate being able to participate in the games as if they were standing.

In closing, I appreciate that these products have great applicaiton to rehabilitation. The system has surely benefitted from all the positive press regarding its use for therapy and activity for people with disabilities. There are endless possibilities for improvement into the therapy arena, and I would encourage you to partner with some pediatric and geriatric therapy practitioners to maximize your products' usefulness and appeal. And given that the Kinect is getting a lot of attention but you could provide a more affordable solution for clinics everywhere, I think it would be worth your time.

Thank you and I hope you will show a renewed interest in collaboration with rehabilitation services in the future.

Cheryl OT


Sarah Mete OT student said...

These were great suggestions did you ever hear back from nintendo?

Cheryl said...

Nope. I think they have bigger problems now anyway.