The effect of the Nintendo Wii Fit and exercise in improving balance and quality of life in community dwelling elders
Franco, Jessie Rae
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OBJECTIVE: The aim of this research study was to see if Nintendo Wii Fit is better able to improve balance in the elderly population when compared to the Matter of Balance program, which is evidence.-based and designed to promote health, balance and wellbeing to decrease the risk of falls. PARTICIPANTS: Residents of an independent living senior housing facility in the Boston area were recruited to participate in this study. A total of 32 residents ages 63 to 90 participated: Wii Fit n=11, Matter of Balance n=11, and Control n=1O. Methods: Participants were separated into three groups. Experimental group 1: The Wii Fit Group performed balance games on the Wii Fit in individual sessions twice a week for three weeks. Experimental group 2: The Matter of Balance Group performed exercises from the Matter of Balance Program in a group setting twice a week for three weeks. The control group received no intervention. Participants in the Wii Fit group had the addition of supplemental home exercises. Two balance and one health and wellness measure were used to determine whether there were any changes following intervention: the Berg Balance Scale, the Tinetti Gait and Balance Assessment, and the Short Form-36 Health Survey (SF-36). RESULTS: Repeated measures ANOV As were used to determine whether there was an effect of the interventions on balance, health and well-being and whether there were any differences between intervention groups. Scores were significantly improved at post-test for both balance assessments: Berg Balance Scale (F1,29= 17.034, p < 0.001); Tinetti Gait and Balance Assessment (F1,29 = 9.715, p < 0.004). The mean increases in balance scores were larger, but not significantly so, for the exercise groups as compared to the control group. Results from the Wii Fit Enjoyment Questionnaire showed that 81% of participants reported high levels of enjoyment while playing the Wii games. DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION: The Wii Fit is an enjoyable form of exercise as self-reported from an elderly population. Balance improved in the Wii Fit group following intervention, but only a small amount and not significantly more than improvements made by the MOB-exercise and non-exercise control groups. It is likely that the three week duration of the Wii Fit intervention was too short a period to make a large and significant impact on elders' balance.
Thesis (M.S.)--Boston University
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