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A Study Suggests the Wii Could be Used to Improve the Balance of Parkinson's Sufferers

Posted by Tim Latshaw

Could reduce fall risks as part of exercise routine

We know the Wii brand has often been promoted to push activity and fitness, but a preliminary study reported in Medpage Today suggests that Wii games, and specifically the Balance Board, can play a role in strengthening the balance of Parkinson’s patients.

According to the report, the “use of the Nintendo Wii virtual reality game” was incorporated as part of a regimen for Parkinson’s disease sufferers. Participants in the study, whose ages averaged 63 years, played three different Wii games in addition to treadmill and cycling routines. Those who exercised this way showed improved balance and gait on quantitative medical scales.

Antonella Peppe, PhD, a research professor at the Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome, said data from the study points toward the Wii Balance Board having potential as an aid in Parkinson’s therapy programs:

The ability of the Wii Balance Board to stimulate the central nervous system makes it potentially useful in the rehabilitation of balance problems in patients with Parkinson's disease. Our results allow us to confirm that the Wii is an excellent tool that can compete with other devices in the rehabilitation of Parkinson's disease.

Given that this is a preliminary study, more research must be conducted to form more concrete results regarding the impact of the Wii and Balance Board. Jennifer Trilk, PhD, clinical assistant professor of biomedical sciences at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville, has noted that the treadmill and cycling exercises may have a greater role in improving gait, and that the design of the Balance Board may limit its ability to be used by a number of patients. Even so, she still says uses of the Balance board “show promise.”

Has the use of Wii games or the Balance Board ever improved your life in a certain way? Let us know.


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User Comments (19)



BlackStar9000 said:

@gaby_gabito if they market it that way, but Nintendo has been so bad at marketing lately that its just sad, Hell the Gamepad with the Chat App can be used as a teaching tool, I do math and english with my kids on it all the way here in Korea, if only Nintendo would let me take charge of marketing....



smashbrolink said:

@BlackStar9000 But can you market it to GAMERS?
It's great that you can market it for its chat capabilities, but still, that's not the focus group of the system.



SCAR said:

The problem is, is that people know exercising, aerobics, and yoga are good for them, but they still don't really care.
The only way a game like Wii Fit can be a selling point, is if people care about their health, which doesn't seem to be the case alot of the time.



Tuurtledove said:


And yet, Nintendo is classified as a casual company these days after all. For the past five-six years the "WiiFit" Brand has become synonymous with Nintendo. And it should continue to do so. It's the third best-selling Video Game of all time after all. If Nintendo is able to once again market their system successfully, it'd be wonderful to see how they might be able to implement the chat feature into a combined mixture of casual/core games



timp29 said:

I would be pretty skeptical about these claims. It might be good for preventative measures... like keeping core strength, but rehabilitation sounds like malarkey to me (unless someone has started getting deep brain stimulation I suppose - but this would be an infinitesimally small market)



yojo said:

Actually when I was younger I went to physical therapy, and playing wii fit for a half hour to a hour every day really helped me. At least enough to convince my mum to buy me wii fit plus



GamerJunkie said:

Nintendo, the company that makes consoles for fat people, old people and kids............

They really need to stop with this stuff and make stuff for gamers already



Mahe said:

@GamerJunkie Wii Fit is also a fun game! And it's been FOUR YEARS since the last Wii Fit, since then we've had Sin & Punishment 2, Super Mario Galaxy 2, The Last Story and tons of other games, so your complaint is completely unfounded. Go hide in a cave if you don't like Wii Fit.



ogo79 said:

my ex had the balance board, but i found it more useful as a cutting board



Tuurtledove said:


I cannot agree with you enough there. All to continuously we see people complaining about how Nintendo has become to casual. Though honestly, I think designing a platform intended for a wider range of consumers (Fitness/Casual/Core/Gamers) can only be a good thing. Spreading the enjoyment to the world can only lead to even greater experiences and games after all



Doma said:

@Tuurtledove “Jack of all trades, master of none”. Look at the WiiU's current situation at market, then try to say that having no real demographic focus is a good thing for Nintendo.

They needed an actual interesting gimmick to reel in the casuals again, but they failed... the gamepad fails on all accounts of being this, as you can tell from Nintendo's uninspired, lazy usage of it so far and the fact they're still at a loss with how to market the thing (last word was they're searching for a buzz-word to entice people.... good luck).

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