13-1 Use of the Wii Fit System for the Treatment of Balance Problems in the Elderly

Use of the Wii Fit System for the Treatment of Balance Problems in the Elderly: A Feasibility Study
Riki Brown, PT, MSc, Arie Burstin, BPT, Heidi Sugarman, PT, PhD



Background: The rate of falls among patients following a stroke is twice the rate seen in an age and gender matched population. In recent years, the use of virtual reality (VR) for the treatment of balance problems in the elderly has become increasingly widespread. This paper is a report of the feasibility and outcome of using a low-cost, commercially available gaming system – Wii Fit – for balance training after stroke.
Methods: The patient was an 86 year-old woman five weeks after stroke, who was unable to walk without close supervision, even with a walker, due to poor balance and a tendency to fall. In addition to standard physical therapy, the patient participated in four training sessions with the Wii Fit system; each training session included four different games. The outcome measures were the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), the Functional Reach and Lateral Reach tests, Timed Up & Go test (TUG), computerized posturography, and the Short Feedback Questionnaire (SFQ). The tests were done before the intervention and on the last day of training. The SFQ was done during the third training session.

Results: The patient greatly enjoyed the training sessions and felt that she was receiving very ‘up-to-date’ treatment. She did not experience any discomfort such as nausea or dizziness while using the system. Following combined Wii and standard treatment, the patient demonstrated improved antero-posterior symmetry of stance, and there was a 10 second improvement in her TUG score. When released from hospital, she was able to walk with a walker with minimal supervision.

Conclusions: This initial pilot study indicates that the Wii Fit gaming system has the potential to be used in clinical settings in order to improve balance. A full clinical trial is necessary in order to examine this premise.

Keywords: balance; stroke; virtual reality; reha-bilitation, Wii Fit.




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