Video games helping patients recover from burn injuries - WBRC FOX6 News - Birmingham, AL

Video games helping Vanderbilt patients recover from burn injuries

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

You can see the determination on Gavin Chitwood's face. The 8-year-old is focused on beating his personal best.

When Gavin first picked up the controller, the Nintendo Wii was a much-needed escape from a difficult reality.

Last month, he was near a campfire when he was burned on his legs and torso. He had third-degree burns and needed surgery, along with several skin grafts.

Now, he's in physical therapy at the Vanderbilt Burn Center, which can be a tough process for someone so young.

"With adults, you can reason with them. You can tell them, this is what you need to do to get back to moving. If you want to up and get back to your life, this is what you need to do. With kids, they don't really understand that. It's more, this hurts, and I'm not going to do it," said Gavin's physical therapist, Trae Williams.

When conventional exercises didn't work, his physical therapist at Vanderbilt decided to give the Nintendo a try, and that's when Gavin's recovery took off.

"When we first started out, Gavin wasn't able to stand. He has this arm burn, so we picked games that would make him use his hand. As he healed up and was able to stand, we progressed to things like the bowling and more things where he could weight bear through both legs," Williams said.

It can be easy for Gavin to forget that all this screen time is helping him make progress.

"It's really fun. I don't think it seems like therapy," he said.

Gavin's achieving a new personal best each day, which goes far beyond a winning score.

Doctors have been using the Wii in their therapy program since February. It was donated by the Chattanooga Firefighters Association.

Copyright 2014 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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