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Wii Australia Government Medicine Games

Should the Gov't Pay For Injured Man's Wii? 222

An anonymous reader writes "Politicians in the Australian state of Victoria are currently locked in a debate about whether an injured man should be able to claim the cost of a Nintendo Wii for rehabilitation purposes under worker's compensation. The man's doctor apparently recommended he use the Wii Fit exercise device, but both insurance companies and the government itself have blocked the payment and have now ridiculed the idea as paying for video games. But with the Wii Fit increasingly being used for rehabilitation purposes internationally, does the man have a fair case?"
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Should the Gov't Pay For Injured Man's Wii?

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  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:48AM (#32070570) Homepage

    EXACTLY what I was going to say. It's probably 10x cheaper than other treatments/devices. I can see the other side -- it's like medical marajuana -- people come out of the woodwork with faked conditions to get a prescription. Wouldn't want to start a land-rush. Next thing you know there will be "medically certified" Wiis out there costing 5x as much as the same thing "off the shelf" and on and on. Paying more now might avoid a rush that could cause a much bigger problem.

  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:49AM (#32070576) Journal

    It's not medical equipment unless it's covered in ugly, pink "medical grade" plastic and exposed polished stainless steel tubes. Also, it must have an impossible-to-clean membrane keypad. And cost four thousand dollars, and can only be rented for one thousand dollars a month.

    Then and only then should the government pay for his rehabilitation tool.

  • Rehaib hospital push (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mudpup ( 14555 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:02AM (#32070628) Homepage Journal

    Broke my hip on the ice this winter. When I was in rehab they got me up and forced me to play a stupid bowling game on the wii. I hate video games! They seem to think anything that motivates you to get up and be more active is a good thing. ( Oklahoma, USA)

  • Revalidation... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:09AM (#32070650)

    ... needs the help of trained kinesists, not of a game.
    When badly injured, you should be doing exactly the exercises needed to cure the injury. Not less, not more.
    I've had a badly injured knee, and after the surgery, I had to spend a whole year, 3 times 2 hours a week, pushing weights in the hospital gym, supervised be a kinesist.

    How can a game tell you what's best for you? And, apart from making it more fun, why do you need images on a TV screen to do your exercises?

    So no. His medical costs (including hospital gym) should be reimbursed. Not a gaming console.

  • Re:Yes, and no. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:09AM (#32070656) Homepage Journal

    There's a lot of physical therapy equipment that is basically light exercise equipment, and can certainly be used to good effect by healthy people. Should the government or insurance companies refuse to pay for it on that basis? Look, the guy's physician prescribed it, and as other posters have pointed out, it's a lot cheaper than sessions with an actual therapist. Its other uses are irrelevant. This case sounds to me a lot more like a politician trying to score points than any real debate over cost-effective medical care.

  • by Antony-Kyre ( 807195 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:11AM (#32070662)

    The Wii can be used for things other than rehabilitation. Once his rehab is finished, should he be able to keep his Wii, or should the government be able to auction it off to recover some of the costs?

  • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:40AM (#32070784) Homepage

    I agree. But the insurance company could offer a rental service, if he really only wants it for rehab.

  • by YojimboJango ( 978350 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:52AM (#32070842)

    The doctor recommended that I cure my overweightness + bad knees with a elliptical machine (told me to quit running, it's bad for me). Insurance will not pay for the $3000 machine, nor will it pay for a gym membership.

    Doctors recommend things that you should do on your own. Doctors prescribe things that are necessary. His doctor only recommended a Wii, he did not prescribe one.

    Also stupid because the court case is gonna cost way more than the $300 a wii with wii fit would cost.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:42AM (#32071106)

    I know a Physical Therapist who got a wii for her kids... She tried the Wii Fit and immediately (within a week) was commenting on how this would be really useful in a treatment scenario - and that NOTHING exists like this for the biofeedback benefits that it can provide. Just sayin - it could definitely have a place in real medical practice.

  • by RKThoadan ( 89437 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:49AM (#32071154)

    Have you ever used/played Wii Fit? Depending on the exercise I'm quite sure you can't get a similar amount of reliable feedback from anything other than medical grade equipment. It tracks your center of balance precisely and can tell you if your doing the exercises correctly. Sure, you can do the exercises without it, but you can't get that reliable feedback on how well your doing. Depending on what kind of rehab he needs that feedback could be vital.

  • by Z00L00K ( 682162 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:57AM (#32071208) Homepage

    I have used a Wiimote together with a Windows Mobile device to collect data in a mobile solution. Inspection of railroad ties.

    1500 button presses per kilometer. And the Wiimote has a decent ergonomic design.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:25AM (#32071450)

    Have you ever used/played Wii Fit? Depending on the exercise I'm quite sure you can't get a similar amount of reliable feedback from anything other than medical grade equipment.

    Yes I have. I have owned a Wii Fit since day 1 of it's release. The feedback it gives has minimal uses and certainly isn't anything that can't be done without. The only thing the Wii Fit would be helpful for is having something of a virtual trainer to pace your workout. In fact, that personal trainer isn't worth a damn because it can't give you feedback on your form or posture. It can only tell if your center of balance is right.

    I'm with the government on this one. If there's a need for low cast at-home virtual rehabilitation systems, perhaps the market should make some?

  • by Brandee07 ( 964634 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:58AM (#32071812)

    It also weighs you and calculates your BMI every time you use it, and then proceeds to tell you that you're fat.

    I started my shift from sedentary to kinda-sorta fit with Wii Fit Plus. The cardio is pretty low-level, but more than enough to wear out a fat video game nerd. Push-ups, however, are still push-ups, even if you're doing them on a balance board. In any case, I started with the Wii Fit, and now I pretty much only use it as a scale, and I get my actual exercise running. But, even though I don't use it now, if I hadn't had it to get me started, I probably would still be unable to run a mile without wanting to puke.

  • Re:sounds familiar (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Brandee07 ( 964634 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @10:07AM (#32071926)

    The same thing goes for other consumer technologies. Insurance companies are willing to throw down thousands on huge, ugly, bulky Augmentative Communication devices for autistic kids, but I bet they wouldn't put down the $400 on an iPod Touch + Proloquo2Go, which is a) a much better solution altogether, and b) less likely to be rejected by younger kids.

    A lot of kids reset having to carry around a huge box that marks them as needing special assistance - even if they really do need that assistance just to communicate. Putting that same functionality into an otherwise awesome iPod makes the kid a lot less likely to throw the device out a window in frustration- especially if the kid has music and games on it too. Unfortunately, the same music, games, and social flags that cause the kid to accept it is what causes the insurance companies to not pay for it.

  • by bukowski01 ( 901465 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:50AM (#32073234)
    Title was more for giggles - not aimed at anyone. I work in the work comp realm. The reason why this is a bad idea is solely due to exposure. In the same light as why a blanket gym membership wouldn't be approved, this is not being (or shouldn't be) approved. Rehab needs to be monitored and directed by someone professional. If this guy hurts himself while milking some cow or rabid rabbits (or whatever that game is called) then that injury would be compensable as a consequence of treatment for his injury. Now, IF the Wii was within the office of his therapist there would be any issues as the treatment would be directed and monitored.
  • by Jerry ( 6400 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @01:20PM (#32074404)

    But, I got hit by a truck and my wife got bored by the treadmill.

    We tried gym memberships, at home exercise routines, beach balls, weight benches, etc. The treadmill doesn't exercise many muscles. My wife, who had experienced a small stroke during hearth surgery, had difficulty walking without dragging her right foot, and on occasions she'd stagger. And it was all boring, boring, boring. The beach ball exercise where you put it against your back and then squat to a point your legs make a 90 degree angle, hold it for the count of 10, then stand again, all the while holding the beach ball against the wall, KILLED my knees. Took me months to recover and even just to walk without knee pain.

    Then we got a Wii and Wii Plus exercise board. Big difference. shifting your weight while trying to drop the balls through the holes, dodging the soccer balls, riding the bike and finding the flag poles, playing golf, bowling and other Wii fitness activities exercises leg muscles that increased my wife's walking agility like the treadmill never could. I get drenched in sweat trying to find the flags while riding a bike all over an island, or by trying to find the balloons on a beach while riding a Segway.

  • by BikeHelmet ( 1437881 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @03:58PM (#32076254) Journal

    Worker's comp picked up the tab because THAT'S WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET INJURED AT WORK.

    What country do you live in?

    I used to work as a receptionist at a Chiropractic clinic, in BC, Canada. I assure you worker's comp did a lot to avoid paying anything. Some people had to struggle for 6-18 months to get ANYTHING back. Until then it all came out of their pocket. Some people never got their injuries covered, under technical clauses like "you got rear-ended in the parking lot outside your place of employment, before signing in for the day, so it isn't work related, and we aren't covering you. Go after ICBC". Of course, ICBC doesn't want to pay anything, because the accident was "on the work premises at your place of employment" - and they recommend you go after WCB.

    So at the end of the day, the little guy gets screwed.

    The best bet for him is to collect info on alternative treatments for his problem, then present the costs to the insurance companies. If they can see they'll save thousands, they may go for it.

  • Exactly. The whole exercise part of the Wii is questionable at best.

    Oh yeah? Free endorsement: in the last 9 months, I lost 35 pounds, 6 waist inches, and 6% body fat using EA Active (and its sequel) on the Wii and the free app "Lose It!" on my iPod. Wii Fit might not be strenuous, but even today a full workout on EA Active's hardest difficulty level will have me pretty well exhausted at the end of half an hour.

  • Back in the late 90s, my dad had a brain aneurysm and stroke which resulted in left hemiparesis (paralysis of the left side of his body, moreso in the arm than the leg in his case). In fact, most of the top half of the right half of his brain was destroyed and it had effects on his speech, short term memory formation, visual processing (he tends to ignore the left half of his field of vision), balance, etc.

    I got him a Wii. He can't do the Wii Fit since he can't stand on his own, but Wii Sports/Wii Sports Resort has helped him significantly with his left neglect (both visual and physical awareness), his overall body coordination, his ability to concentrate on certain things and perform cognitive skills (Big Brain Academy), etc. I'd love to see more games, especially games playable with a single hand, which can be used to isolate certain functions to help patients recover from various injuries. Anyone that rejects the potential benefit for some patients obviously has never been in the position of being a caregiver (at home or in a professional capacity) to such people.

    As an added bonus, the Wii is a great time killer for my dad. When you're literally stuck in a chair any time you're not stuck in a bed and you have limited monetary resources, it's a cheap way to entertain yourself through the endless, boring days. And for someone in his condition, even if that's all the Wii did for him, it was a good investment on my part.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"