An article crossed my virtual desk regarding Wii usage and balance in MS patients which led me to do some research. I quickly came across Wii Balance Board Induces Changes in the Brains of MS Patients and was further intrigued by the idea. Given I am always searching for more ways to push my progress forward in terms of regaining a more normal gate and balance after living with MS for 20+ years yet now recovering, I decided to obtain a Wii console and an accompanying balance board.
“The most important finding in this study is that a task-oriented and repetitive training aimed at managing a specific symptom is highly effective and induces brain plasticity,” he said. “More specifically, the improvements promoted by the Wii balance board can reduce the risk of accidental falls in patients with MS, thereby reducing the risk of fall-related comorbidities like trauma and fractures.”
Brain plasticity. Now we’re talking my language.
I must warn you that the cheesy interface put me off immediately because it insists upon calculating your BMI. As someone who suffered from an eating disorder MANY moons ago and still has no scale in the house, I don’t deal with issues of weight/size terribly well. Although your weight is never required nor mentioned in the beginning, your height is. The magic of the balance board does the rest, and you are promptly placed into a category such as “normal”. As long as you are okay with that level of category/judgment, you’re good to go. Once you run its short initial program, its satisfied and assigns you a Wii-Fit Age. This age will most likely differ considerably from your actual age. Don’t worry about it. You may now move on to playing games and improving your balance. It prompts you to retake the test each time you use the device, but you may ignore it. It wants to compare your progress, but you don’t need to do that unless you want to. I even leave the sound off as it supplies text to read, too.
Remember that this was made to be used for people who counted calories and wanted a way to exercise at home. I could not be further from their target audience.
After using it for 10 days, it did finally ask me for my weight. I ignored/bypassed this request with no problem. It told me that my weight had changed (didn’t say in which direction) when I was horribly premenstrual which almost got it launched through a window, but I managed to get myself under control realizing how silly it was to be holding a conversation with the Wii. I was taking this inanimate object’s opinions a bit too personally. 🙂 (It also comments on the weather, whether you’ve had breakfast etc.). I’ve spoken to several people who don’t have the same balance issues that I do. They also have been asked if they trip a lot or have been assigned “advanced” Wii-Fit Ages. Bottom line is to not take anything the Wii says to heart.
I find the Wii balance board to be an incredibly useful tool. I already feel more balanced and am more comfortable standing for longer periods of time. It’s a pretty cheap and fun way to increase your balance! I plan to continue using it on a daily basis. We purchased both the balance board and the Wii Fit Plus disc on amazon.com and the Wii itself at GameStop.com