Wii Helps Burn Patients Stir and Chop to Recovery

A video game is changing how patients recover from burns

Doctors are cooking up a new way of treating burn patients at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center.  Patients are using the Nintendo gaming system  Wii to try their injured hands at cooking. 

"Rehabilitation is so important, using your joints and muscles, and Wii lets you do that," Dr. Roger Yurt said.

Yurt and other doctors have daily sessions of game time to improve the flexibility and mobility of their patients.  They say the cooking challenges help patients to move their wrists and arms in the same way they would in physical therapy.

"The process of scarring occurs shortly after the burn so we want to address these soon after the injuries" said therapist Sam Yohannan.

Just two weeks after being badly burned in a deadly house fire, Shafin Ahammed now spends an hour daily playing the cooking game, which he says gives him mobility and flexibility while taking his mind off the pain.  Therapists say the virtual reality helps patients escape the actual reality of their injuries. 

"I think the enjoyment encourages them to move without realizing it" Yohannan said.

The physical and psychological effects are being analyzed as part of a year long research study.  In just a few months, doctors say the patients are reporting less pain and increased mobility of joints and muscles, making all of them winners.

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