Turns out Wii U’s aren’t useless after all! The Wii U Balance Board, previously a gimmicky piece of kit to help immerse you in their various sports games, has finally find its true niche: helping paraplegic patients maintain balance in their exoskeletons.
We’ve written before about the benefits of exoskeleton use in paraplegic patients, but there is a pretty glaring downside to the technique: falling down. These bulky, heavy exoskeletons would be problematic for an able-bodied person to fall over in; for a paraplegic, it’s a nightmare.
It has been difficult for paraplegic patients to maintain proper balance, as the tactile feedback in our feet that we all take for granted simply isn’t present for them. Playing games on the Wii Balance Board has proven to be an effective way of training paraplegic patients to properly balance themselves in their suits, getting them one step closer to standing on their own two feet.
It’s unexpected, but not unwelcome, to see the Wii U Balance Board shine in this particular way. Rather than spend hundreds of thousands if not more on some new tech, the fact that researchers are able to help their patients with what is essentially a cheap bit of plastic and some basic electronics is remarkable. It makes you wonder what other hidden potential could be lying in the cheap, gimmicky tat we’ve all long discarded. Who knows, maybe Dr. Kawashima’s Brain Training really can help us build healthier minds.
But also, maybe not.