The Wii continues to expand its footprint in the medical field now with homework for stroke victims

For every scary story we get regarding technology and human interaction we also get some really cool ones that are making a real difference in people’s lives.

Today’s installment has to do with Nintendo’s Wii and people trying to recover from strokes. Thanks to a team of researchers at the University of Notre Dame stroke sufferers can now continue their rehabilitation at home with the help of remote therapists and Wehab.

Wehab is a a new “game” that utilizes the Wii Balance board to help those patients that are recovering from a stroke to regain control over their balance. This retraining is needed so that patients can perform even the most basic of tasks like walking and dressing.

In the past therapists would work with things like mirrors and guess work to see if stroke patients have made any progress but with the Wehab suite, which includes the Wii balance board and web cameras, therapists can now obtain data on the patient’s movements. As well the therapists can lead stroke victims through normal rehabilitation exercises on the Wehab which then collects all data with customized software.

While therapists have been using Wii games for some time as part of a rehabilitation regime it wasn’t a plug-in-play solution mainly because they were able to fine tune any of the games they used. AS well there was no way for them to collect and store data for analysis at a later time.

Wehab tries to correct these deficiencies and hopes to take the whole setup one step further by creating a take home version so that patients can continue their therapy which is important because of the many health care constraints faced by the patient.

“In the US, the payment system is tight on what and how long a stroke client can receive therapy,” says Jeanne Harper, a therapist at Skills 4 Living Therapy. “Stroke clients can get return of function months and years after their stroke, and often they do not get uninterrupted continuous therapy services, and often not coordinated services.”

Striegel’s solution is to incorporate cloud computing and internet access into Wehab’s design to allow the patient to perform rehab activities from the comfort of their home.

“You plug in the WeHab system to your TV where it automatically connects to the Internet via a 3G or 4G data connection,” says Striegel. “On first starting it up, you are connected to your therapist who video chats with you to answer any questions as you start your rehab in the home setting. Under the watchful eyes of your therapist who can see you and the readings from your screen, you are walked through balance therapy exactly like you experienced in the clinic.”

via Fast Company

Initial units are planned for 2012 and will be priced at around $1,500; which really a small price to pay if it means you can recover from having a stroke quicker and with improvement of your quality of life.

Here is a video demonstrating the Wehab: