Hitting a Homerun to Beat Cancer Fatigue

When Ora King steps up to play baseball, he's doing more than connecting the ball and bat. Using a motion sensitive controller, he's fighting cancer fatigue using Nintendo's Wii video game system.

"Wii therapy helps with balance, coordination, strength and mental sharpness without making therapy seem tedious or boring," says Mary Calys, a physical therapist and fatigue management expert. "The video game distracts so patients sustain a higher intensity/repetitious level of exercise; yet, perceive their experience as fun."

Mary started Kansas City's first fatigue management program at North Kansas City Hospital two years ago. She stresses that the Wii complements traditional therapy methods (walking, exercise machines, etc.) but doesn't replace traditional techniques. She adds, "Many of the people we treat hope to play golf, tennis or bowl again but sometimes lack stamina, feel uncomfortable in public places or lack confidence. We address these issues using the Wii as one component in an overall treatment plan."

Known to Wii enthusiasts as "Ora`d King", surgery and radiation treatment for lung cancer zapped Ora's energy last year. He remembers even simple tasks, like showering, seemed impossible.

Mary recalls when Ora started with her program he needed help just standing for therapy. Now, his walking endurance is within normal limits for a 62-year-old man, and he climbs stairs without shortness of breath.

Ora credits fatigue management therapy, like the Wii game, pole walking and weight training, with boosting his energy level. "I am even helping my wife with the laundry," he laughs.

For more information on the cancer rehab and fatigue management program, call 816-691-1580. Individual outpatient cancer rehab and fatigue management is covered by Medicare, private insurance and private pay. A physician's referral is required.

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