Since the 1980's there has been a proliferation in the types of medical, assistive and learning technologies developed to help people with cognitive and physical limitations related to disability and illness. Accompanying the availability of these technologies has been a growing concern about their appropriate use by consumers (Tate et.al, 2002). As an Occupational Therapist one of the goals of intervention when working with clients who require an AT device is to ensure that the we are enhancing the independent functioning of that person. An AT device, as defined by the Technology-Related Assistance for Individuals With Disabilities Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-497), refers to any item, piece of equipment, or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customised, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
For the remainder of this blog I want to look at one of these AT devices in action, in particular Wii-Fit and its use in TBI rehabilitation. Wii Fit Plus has been out for a couple of years now and requires a console and balance board to participate in. Googling Wii Fit and TBI rehabilitation brings up many stories about current successes with this tool in intervention. Here is one I found.
Wii Fi Plus Bundle can currently be purchased for around $128, this includes the software required and the balance board shown on the above video. A Wii consule is required to operate the software and the cheapest option I found for this included Wii sports for $278. To make the experience beneficial the TV display has to be considered, a screen of around 40 inches would be ideal and plasma televisions of this size currently retail for around $650. The following video highlights some of the 15 training games available on Wii Fit.
For those people who have experienced a TBI, occupational transition can mean the transition from one occupational form to the realising of another, as disability or impairment prevents previous occupations from occurring. The presence or absence of an engaging occupation is considered a key determinant for experiencing satisfying occupational patterns in daily life (Christiansen & Townsend, 2010). So while the Wii Fit may have many cognitive and physical benefits for its users, there may be underlying psychological benefits as well. Occupational justice ensures that all members of society have a right to equally participate in their occupations, so that clients have a right to chose whether they participate in this form of rehabilitation.
Bryant, D.P., & Bryant, B.R. (2003). Assistive technology for people with disabilities. Boston MA: Pearson.
Christiansen, C.H., & Townsend, E.A. (2010). Introduction to occupation: the art and science of living. London: Pearson Education Ltd.
Tate, D. G., Riley, B., & Forchheimer, M. (2002). Enhancing the appropriate use of assistive technology among consumers and caretakers. In M. J. Scherer (Ed.), Assistive technology: matching device and consumer for successful rehabilitation. Washington: American Psychological Association.