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Wii Balance Board used in children's physical therapy

3:00 PM on 04.17.2011 // Jesse Cortez

Regardless of how you feel about Nintendo's Wii peripherals, there is no doubt that some people have found uses for them. A group of students at Rice University have developed a game using the Wii Balance Board to help children at Shiners Hospital in Houston track their progress in physical therapy. A team of engineers and computer scientists worked together to build a device that lines up the Wii Balance Boards between active handrails, which can provide feedback on how much the patients are relying on their arms for support.

The computer scientists on the team developed the game, Equilibirium, to entice children to use the device and rely less on the handrails. The game involves shooting approaching monsters by walking and leaning at certain spots along the Wii Balance Board array, which gets harder as the patients improve. Patients can rack up points as they defeat enemies, but too much use of the handrails detracts points and adds an incentive to improve their posture.

I have a personal attachment to this story, since not only did I attend Rice University myself, but one of the computer scientists, Jesus Cortez, just so happens to be my brother. Congrats go out to Elem08 and his team on a job well done!


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