How Physical Video Games May Help the Elderly
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Dec 2, 2011

How Physical Video Games May Help the Elderly

Video games were for a long time, the nemesis of many people, even for those who grew up with the very simple ones. On traditional video game consoles it is difficult to understand the different functioning’s of each button on the controller, and learning to use all the controls simultaneously is virtually impossible for anyone over the age of 40.
The introduction of game consoles like the Xbox Kinect and Wii have opened up the entertaining world of gaming for both the traditional gamer and those that are not so traditional. In fact many experts in the medical field now see the Kinect and Wii as a viable gaming, entertainment and activity option for people that are not as mobile as they once were. Surprisingly enough, these gaming devices are now considered by experts in the physical rehabilitation field as psychologically beneficial to people aged 65 and older.

Integration in Physical Therapy
Both the Wii and the Kinect are what is known as motion gaming consoles, and it is for this reason that they are being used in rehabilitation centers around the nation to get the elderly to move about more. The games cause an individual to move and exercise even without him realizing he is doing just that. This new way of getting people to exercise is causing physical therapists to take a hard look at gaming consoles and their motion games to consider integrating this type of therapy in their rehab programs because of their positive effects. The objective is to allow physical rehabilitation assistants to learn to use the games with their patients to get them in physical movement.
Most professionals in the field using motion gaming devices know that the benefits to elderly patients include increased physical activity, higher self-esteem and an increased sense of place. Even a few sessions with the Wii or Kinect can improve physical balance, coordination and gives the player a higher level of strength. Physical therapist assistants are also learning that elderly participation in the games could prevent falls and give individuals better walking balance.
Psychological Implications
This type of game play is not only physically beneficial but also psychologically as it promotes activity, creates companionship and allows for senior social interaction. Psychological studies are currently being conducted as to the effects of playing Wii on depression and loneliness, both emotions that affect the elderly.
Many believe the recreation of experiences previously enjoyed, such as bowling, golf or tennis engages their interest again in activities they can no longer physically take part in. Elderly individuals who participate in these gaming activities with the help of a physical rehabilitation assistant say they feel more a part of things, more involved in life and connected to younger generations, giving them a greater sense of self and purpose.
The newer motion games are not just about getting a good work out, but are now a bridge between newer technology and the pastimes seniors have always taken part in.

Author Bio: Amber Davis is a writer who typically blogs about physical therapist assistant programs and schools. She also loves writing about other college health education programs, which have been published on several college blogs.

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