Although current research supports the use of active video games (AVGs) in rehabilitation, the evidence has yet to be systematically reviewed or synthesized. The current project systematically reviewed literature, summarized findings, and evaluated the effectiveness of AVGs as a therapeutic tool in improving physical, psychological, and cognitive rehabilitative outcomes among older adults with chronic diseases.
Seven databases (Academic Search Complete, Communication & Mass Media Complete, ERIC, PsycINFO, PubMed, SPORTDiscus, and Medline) were searched for studies that evaluated the effectiveness of AVG-based rehabilitation among older patients. The initial search yielded 946 articles; after evaluating against inclusion criteria and removing duplicates, 19 studies of AVG-based rehabilitation remained.
Most studies were quasiexperimental in design, with physical functioning the primary outcome investigated with regard to the use of AVGs in rehabilitation. Overall, 9 studies found significant improvements for all study outcomes, whereas 9 studies were mixed, with significant improvements on several study outcomes but no effects observed on other outcomes after AVG-based treatments. One study failed to find any benefits of AVG-based rehabilitation.
Findings indicate AVGs have potential in rehabilitation for older patients, with several randomized clinical trials reporting positive effects on rehabilitative outcomes. However, existing evidence is insufficient to support the advantages of AVGs over standard therapy. Given the limited number of studies and concerns with study design quality, more research is warranted to make more definitive conclusions regarding the ability of AVGs to improve rehabilitative outcomes in older patients.