herald

Wednesday 26 November 2014

How playing on the Wii can help your balance

GAMERS may love the Nintendo Wii for its entertainment value -- but it could also help adults with balance problems.

The Nintentedo Wii Fit Plus is being tested to see how it compares to conventional physiotherapy treatments.

Research has shown that using the games console could help improve the development of children with movement difficulties.

Dara Meldrum, a Lecturer in Physiotherapy with the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI), is doing a study on the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus in adults with diseases that can cause balance problems.

She told the Herald that "we have 61 people recruited and about 57 are finished already."

Those taking part were given the Nintendo console on loan for eight weeks.



ENJOYMENT

Meldrum's research will compare people who have undergone the more conventional physiotherapy balance treatments, versus those who use the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus.

"One of the things I am measuring is enjoyment. I am going to see if they comply more with their exercises because they like the Wii," said Ms Meldrum, who is a Health Research Board fellow.

She added that conventional balance exercises can include standing on a wobble board, a walking programme, and stepping over objects.

"The attraction of the Nintendo is that is highly enjoyable, it stimulates balance, and it gives feedback on where the person's centre of balance is.

"Also, the physiotherapist can measure what they have done on the Wii if they bring the console in."

A previous study showed that the Nintendo Wii Fit Plus scored highly among adults, with 88pc wanting to use it in future treatment.

The results of new research, on the Wii's use in patients with vestibular diseases, will be published in the coming months.

Meanwhile, in relation to the latest research from the UK which showed that regular use of balance games on the computer console can have a positive impact on the motor skills of children with developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), Ms Meldrum said that parents should consult their health professional before they buy one for therapeutic reasons.

fdillon@herald.ie

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