Wii Balance Board Used to Help Parkinson’s Patients

Usually functioning as a plastic peripheral for the video game ‘Wii Fit’, Wii Balance Boards may now be used as a way to help patients with Parkinson’s disease.

Wii Fit image

Plenty of games have been criticised for relying too heavily on the use of extra peripherals. The Guitar Hero franchise heralded the idea that everyone should opt for a plastic axe over a real-life ones while controllers that switched thumbsticks and buttons for gun sights and fake ammo cartridges were a huge success. One extra controller that hasn’t been dismissed for taking up too much closet space is the Wii Balance Board, used to monitor weight and play games in the exercise and health title, Wii Fit. In fact, it’s this Wii Balance Board that could instead change the state of play for those that have Parkinson’s disease.

The reasons why the Wii Balance Board could work so well with those with Parkinson’s lies therein the symptoms of the disease. As the illness affects the parts of the brain that control the central nervous systems, the first things that patients experience is a lack of motor skills with many suffering from the inability to walk and commonly they experience shaking too. The Wii Balance Board promotes the improvement of these skills (even for those without the disease), employing games such as virtual tightrope walking, hula-hooping and one game that sees you having to avoid flying objects whilst attempting to head footballs into a goal.

Tests at the Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome have been carried out on those with the disease to see just how well it could work as a form of treating Parkinson’s, an illness for which there is no cure. In their study, Parkinson’s patients with an average age of 63 years old, were to utilise the Wii Balance Board in addition to regular exercise on treadmills and by cycling. Reportedly, those that took part in the test successfully increased their balance and gait, with research professor Antonella Peppe even going as far as to say that “[the Wii Balance Board is] an excellent tool that can compete with other devices” when it comes to rehabilitation.

However, the study did lack a control group so those with the disease who didn’t take part in the test may have to wait a little longer for this to be integrated into their treatment, but it does sound promising so we’ll keep you updated on any future developments.

Source : Medpage Today

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