Objective: To investigate the efficacy of Nintendo Wii Fit®-based balance rehabilitation as an adjunctive therapy to conventional rehabilitation in stroke patients.
Methods: During the study period, 70 stroke patients were evaluated. Of these, 23 who met the study criteria were randomly assigned to either the experimental group (n = 12) or the control group (n = 11) by block randomization. Primary outcome measures were Berg Balance Scale, Functional Reach Test, Postural Assessment Scale for Stroke Patients, Timed Up and Go Test and Static Balance Index. Secondary outcome measures were postural sway, as assessed with Emed-X, Functional Independence Measure Transfer and Ambulation Scores. An evaluator who was blinded to the groups made assessments immediately before (baseline), immediately after (post-treatment), and 4 weeks after completion of the study (follow-up).
Results: Group-time interaction was significant in the Berg Balance Scale, Functional Reach Test, anteroposterior and mediolateral centre of pressure displacement with eyes open, anteroposterior centre of pressure displacement with eyes closed, centre of pressure displacement during weight shifting to affected side, to unaffected side and total centre of pressure displacement during weight shifting. Demonstrating significant group-time interaction in those parameters suggests that, while both groups exhibited significant improvement, the experimental group showed greater improvement than the control group.
Conclusion: Virtual reality exercises with the Nintendo Wii system could represent a useful adjunctive therapy to traditional treatment to improve static and dynamic balance in stroke patients.
Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability (1). In stroke patients, balance can be affected by various factors, such as muscular weakness, abnormal muscle tone, deficits in visual and sensory function or disturbances in vestibular mechanisms (2). Since balance dysfunction is associated with increased risk of falling, balance exercises are a critical component of the rehabilitation of stroke patients.
Recent years have seen growing interest in the use of new technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), in stroke rehabilitation. Clinical results indicate that the use of VR technologies improves motor functioning (3–5). VR can be used to improve upper limb function, gait and balance, global motor function and cognitive function in stroke patients (6). However, VR equipment is usually complex and expensive, and may be available only in specialist centres with the help of experienced therapists. As a consequence, there has been an increase in the number of studies on the efficacy of commercial gaming programs in stroke rehabilitation. PlayStation, Wii, and Xbox, along with Kinect, are the game consoles most commonly used in stroke rehabilitation. Wii (Nintendo, Kyoto, Japan) is a game console used to improve balance, strength, flexibility and fitness. It provides a relatively simple and inexpensive opportunity for VR treatment (7).
Several randomized controlled studies have evaluated the effect of Wii-based balance rehabilitation programmes in stroke patients. Cho et al. (8) investigated the effects of VR balance training using Wii in chronic stroke patients. They reported that Wii-based VR exercises resulted in a significant improvement in dynamic balance (8). In another study, chronic stroke patients were randomly assigned to 2 groups. In the first group patients played console games for 5 weeks, and in the control group patients maintained their usual daily activities. A slight improvement was measured in the first group (9).
There are conflicting results in the literature about the efficacy of Wii-based balance exercises compared with other balance rehabilitation programmes, such as progressive balance training and task-specific programmes.
A number of studies have investigated whether the addition of Wii exercises or other exercise options to balance rehabilitation programmes makes a difference in stroke patients. The results are controversial. Lee et al. (10) reported better results in the Wii group. In contrast, Yatar et al. (11) indicated that there were no differences between Wii Fit balance training and progressive balance exercises.
Adequate postural control and good balance performance are prerequisites for independence in daily activities; therefore, these should be important goals of stroke rehabilitation (8). The aim of this study was to investigate the efficacy of Wii Fit-based balance rehabilitation as an adjunctive therapy to conventional rehabilitation in stroke patients.[…]