Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
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?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

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

Comments Filter:
  • by ls671 ( 1122017 ) * on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:38AM (#32070528) Homepage

    He should be careful what he wishes for, apparently there might be a risk of ending up like this women: []

  • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:42AM (#32070538)
    I'm not saying they should condone it, but a Wii is probably a lot cheaper than any other form of treatment or medication. Just saying.
    • 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 Anonymous Coward on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:57AM (#32070876)

        You cannot return a used joint but you can return a used Wii.

        Just make them return the Wii once treatment is over. You don't get to keep "free" wheelchairs after you've recovered either.

        • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:35AM (#32071540)

          I know they're a lot cheaper than a wheelchair but the crutches and boot from when I broke my leg both stayed with me, along with a few other miscellaneous gadgets from rehab. Worker's comp paid for all of it (fell down the stairs at work so it fell under worker's comp). I'm guessing there's some cost threshold though.

        • Just make them return the Wii once treatment is over. You don't get to keep "free" wheelchairs after you've recovered either.

          I think that's dependent upon how long you're going to be using said wheelchair. Though generally if you're going to be using it long term they make you buy your own.

          Personal thought - I see a number of issues, broken down by:
          1. Effectiveness - Is the Wii fit effective for the dollars it costs. Dollar per dollar, does it produce enough benefit to be worth it?
          2. Motivation - physical therapy sucks. Rehabilitive products, no matter how effective or expensive, don't work if they aren't used. If the Wii f

    • I thought the same - probably less than a dozen hours of physio.

    • I don't get it. The man's doctor recommended he use a wii. Why shouldn't the government or insurance pay for it as part of his workers comp? If they're gunna pay for him to receive treatment, why are they making such a big fuss about something his doctor recommended?

      They are spending way more money (time and resources) on fighting it than they would if they just bought the damn thing. Seriously, a Wii and a Wii Fit are equivalent dollar-wise to probably between one and two hours of lawyer-time. The cost of having various flackeys come up with reasons why not paying for the wii is the right thing to do, writing that out for the rejection letter, press releases, internal memos, etc. all adds up too.

      Frankly, the AU government and/or the insurance company is wasting its money - not only in fighting the payment for a wii, but in the way it approves or rejects payments. The process should be really simple: Did the doctor recommend it? Do we have any reason to suspect the doctor? Is there a clearly less expensive substitute that still fulfills the doctor's recommendation (i.e., a Wii not custom fabricated out of gold)? Is the payment less than x (x being the cost of rejecting the payment and winning a typical subsequent legal challenge)?

      All of these questions are really easy and would take up less than 5 minutes of a reviewers time. They would also weed out most fraud.

      • by dingen ( 958134 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:59AM (#32070888)

        why are they making such a big fuss about something his doctor recommended?

        Because it's a game console. You can play Zelda on it. And Mario. Playing such games doesn't have anything to do with treating the man's injury. Besides (and maybe even more important) a lot of people want a game console, like a Nintendo Wii. Giving away such devices for free when people are sick is going to make a lot of people sick.

      • What if my doctor recommends a trip to Jamaica? Or a year-long global cruise?

        The problem isn't doctors who make recommendations in good faith, it's that it becomes difficult or impossible to distinguish between good faith recommendations and doctors who are willing to game the system because their practice will have patients waiting in line for an appointment once word gets out.

        I doubt the government is thinking that this case is an abuse, they just realize that it's a highly abusable scenario and need to

    • by ukyoCE ( 106879 )

      Sad but true. I wish I could remember the article where someone used a $30 wiimote (or something) in place of a $1000+ specialized device.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cornwallis ( 1188489 )

      Exactly! This is a very cheap "out". Look at all the money spent on those ridiculous "scooters" from the Scooter Store and similar soak-the-insurance schemes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TRRosen ( 720617 )

      Heck the doctor probably billed more while recommending it.

      For all the people whinging about the cost if it replaces just one session of therapy its already saved money. I had knee surgery due to an injury at work and my Physical therapy sessions cost more than a Wii ($240/two hour sessions)

      And for the rental theory. If rental was required the suppliers would charge more for rent of a Wii in a couple of months then the total cost of a new unit. That I can guarantee.

    • by lazlo ( 15906 )

      Cheaper and sensible don't often have much to do with the health care industry. My dad was recently prescribed a powered wheelchair. Though the cost was almost completely covered by by insurance, we were both completely incensed by how much it was. We figured out that we could buy a new Mercedes, take out the (very nice) driver's seat (and throw the rest of the car away), buy two new Segways, strap the seat to the Segways, and end up with something certainly more comfortable, that probably could be made

    • I'm not saying they should condone it, but a Wii is probably a lot cheaper than any other form of treatment or medication. Just saying.

      "Probably" isn't good enough. "Just saying" isn't good enough.

      The Wii has to be paid for out of your budget for durable medical goods and supplies.

      There is a demand for medical oxygen.

      Wheelchairs. Eyeglasses. Hearing aids. Diabetic test kits. Cardiac monitors....

      There is a demand for the Wii.

      The benefits of the portable oxygen tank can be demonstrated by at least a century

      • by dingen ( 958134 )

        The medical value of the Wii --- unproven.

        That's actually a pretty good point. Here in the Netherlands, Freud's method of psychoanalysis has recently been removed from the package of government-funded health care, because there is no proof or scientific basis at all on the effectiveness of this treatment. Same goes with the Wii I suppose.

    • by sloth jr ( 88200 )
      Wii Fit captures several exercises that could be done without it. It follows that since there is a cheaper means of getting his rehabilitation (eg, functional exercises), I would expect that there are grounds for denying the Wii Fit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Idiomatick ( 976696 )
      There was a case a while ago about an iPhone being used as a medical device. And it was several times cheaper than the comparable tool. But it wasn't allowed because it was a phone/toy and not suited for the purpose.

      Personally, I think these big companies are missing an opportunity. Why wouldn't nintendo gimp the wii, stick it in a sturdy box and allow people to use it for one purpose only, then double the price and sell it as a medical tool. Same with cellphone companies that could be producing today's tr
    • by mal3 ( 59208 )

      If his doctor told him to start jogging would the government buy him new Nikes?

  • 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.

    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

      The problem with medical devices is that their safety is covered by a bunch of international standards. Those things are pretty disgusting reads, and I guess the engineers show their, um, lack of appreciation of the literary quality of the standards in the design of the devices.

      The truth is, you can make beautiful medical devices, yes, even those that have embedded processing in them. I think, for example, that GE's patient monitors have some slick industrial design.

  • Yes, and no. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Phoenix ( 2762 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @06:59AM (#32070612)

    Since the Doctor suggested the Wii Fit, then I have no problems with the idea of the Government pay for the Wii Fit. If this were in the US, then I would agree that the Insurance company pay for it.


    Since the Wii can be used for more than just the physical fitness applications, the Wii itself should not be paid for.

    • Re:Yes, and no. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by clemdoc ( 624639 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:09AM (#32070648)
      If I break a leg, I get crutches (if necessary)[1]. After I don't need them anymore, I have to give them back or pay for them. Same thing for the wii -> problem solved.
      [1] In Austria. YMMV
      • [1] In Austria. YMMV

        Any Aussies here might want to let Victorians know they've been annexed by Austria.

      • If I break a leg, I get crutches (if necessary)[1]. After I don't need them anymore, I have to give them back or pay for them. Same thing for the wii -> problem solved.

        Medical devices designed to be transferred among many different people are made of specific materials that can be cleaned or have parts replaced.

      • by TRRosen ( 720617 )

        Actually they never ask for crutches back here. Sad to say but it would probably cost more to maintain and control an inventory of crutches than to just give new ones every time.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      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-eff

  • by yanyan ( 302849 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:01AM (#32070626)

    He was doing it wrong.

  • 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)

    • by icebraining ( 1313345 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:30AM (#32070734) Homepage

      I hate video games!

      So what? You don't have to score points, just perform the motion and ignore the "game".

    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      " They seem to think anything that motivates you to get up and be more active is a good thing."

      As long as it doesn't hurt you, it -is- a good thing.

      However, that obviously didn't motivate you and they were wrong to force it. They should have given you the old boring, tedious rehab style instead.

    • by Kozz ( 7764 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:58AM (#32071220)

      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)

      You could probably get equivalent exercise by chasing the neighborhood kids from your lawn.

      • No that's silly.

        He needs a kid holding a Wii that will threaten to make him play it if he doesn't start moving around.

        He hates Wii. Wii hates him. Everybody happy. Problem solved.

    • 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)

      Rehab isn't supposed to be fun, it's supposed to make you functional as quickly as possible.

      Of course anything that motivates (read: forces) you to get up and be more active is a good thing, especially when you've broken something. When I was in the hospital with several broken bones after a car accident they made me walk literally the next day. The pain makes you irritable and any kind of movement just pisses you off even further but it's better than the alternative: atrophy and loss of range of motion.

  • 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?

  • Stay indoors Tim (Score:3, Informative)

    by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:14AM (#32070682) Homepage Journal

    On the other side is WorkCover Minister Tim Holding

    It was Tim Holding who got himself lost [] back country skiing in rather stupid circumstances last winter. So its wrong for him to oppose paying for a gadget which will get a recovering patient moving without risking his life.

    Maybe Mr Jones from Coburg (hey! he's almost a neighbour) should throw himself off Mt Feathertop for exercise.

    And Tim, try Lake Mountain. Believe me its your more speed. Harder to get lost.

  • by Hurricane78 ( 562437 ) <deleted&slashdot,org> on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:21AM (#32070702)

    Hey, it’s better than the $15000 a “officially accepted” device would cost, that would do the same job.
    I say, it is completely irrelevant what the device was “supposed to be’. What counts is:
    1. Did it help him?
    2. Was it not pointlessly expensive?
    And as it looks like that’s a yes, and a yes, I say: If you’d pay a “official” device, of course it should be paid. And you should be thankful that he didn’t take the $15000 device. ^^

  • by psnyder ( 1326089 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @07:25AM (#32070718)
    Because the man can do the same exercises without the Wii, without the game.

    Wii Fit is like a cheap personal trainer/motivator. No competent doctor is going to recommend it as a full replacement for a rehabilitation therapist. But they may recommend it as healthy, daily exercise. The same thing can be accomplished by handing the man a pamphlet, except Wii Fit motivates better.

    Yes, Wii Fit should be recommended to motivate patients. No, a government shouldn't pay for this "extra motivation".
  • Cried the lazy worthless tax-payer funded pencil pushing parasites, as they faked up inflated expenses claims for wear and tear on their "DENIED" rubber stamps.
  • I think it's mandatory here in Australia that you be absolutely fucking clueless about technology to stand for election. If you know so much as how to switch on a mobile phone, you're out!

  • 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 cstacy ( 534252 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @08:55AM (#32071186)
    So did the Doctor modify this Wii with a sonic screwdriver, or is it just a stock game console?
  • sounds familiar (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TRRosen ( 720617 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @09:44AM (#32071646)

    reminds me of Roger Ebert's complaint that his insurance would pay $8000 for a bulky piece of crap machine with a keyboard to speak for him that sounded like a bad 60s Sci-fi robot but refused to pay $1000 for a macbook that could do the same thing much better.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Brandee07 ( 964634 )

      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 com

      • by TRRosen ( 720617 )

        But I say if its good enough for the US military to use as a translator in Iraq its good enough for Billy to use it to communicate. I just hope Billy doesn't use it to calculate bullet drop on a sniper rifle.

      • by Phrogman ( 80473 ) on Monday May 03, 2010 @11:21AM (#32072910) Homepage

        The Insurance companies more than likely have a deal with the manufacturers of that bulky, ugly equipment so that they get a kickback on any purchases they support. Insurance companies are not about providing a useful service to their customers, they are about making as much money as possible while paying out the least amount possible.

  • You need to charge the insurance company at least five to six times the full retail price or it's not a "real" medical device.
  • If the doctor prescribed it, the insurance / government should pay for it.

    If the insurance / government has a problem with the doctor prescribing that sort of thing, they need to seek redress with the doctor, not the patient. It's the doctor's responsibility to recommend beneficial treatment; it's (probably) not the patient's fault for getting injured or sick.

  • returning it is an interewtin diea, but how about a Wii(rx) that just runs therapeutic software?

    Sure, WiiFit and all that exist now, but some clever physical therapists will jump on this and create customizeable software that offers specific exercises. Hey, can it report back via the Internet, or give you the report codes do you can call the office and verify you completed the assigned exercises successfully? Download new ones as you progress? Encouraging/helpful messages from your therapist? Next thing

  • 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.

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak