With the increasing number of falls and reduced mobility
According to the research, playing specially developed video games with the Nintendo Wii Balance Board can improve older people’s gait and balance.
The video games also provide an avenue for bridging the gap between two generations on the opposite side of the age meter: the young people and the older people. Professor Craig has quoted that “this is a nice example of how older and young people can play together for better health.”
The Balance Board is a stable board composed of scales, on which the older people are supposed to stand on. The board has built-in sensors wired into it, in order to detect the shifting of weight by older people. The goal is to move objects within the game by shifting their weight around. In one game, the player is supposed to move their weight in the balance board in order to catch apples falling off the tree.
The researchers say the game improves mobility largely because players don not consciously think of their balance while playing the game, being deeply engrossed and focused on the goals.
At the moment, the games are not commercially available but were only developed for the experiment. Asked why it is better at improving mobility than other commercially available Wii games, Professor Craig said, “we looked at the games that were already commercially available but they didn’t map the player’s movements in the way we needed.”
In the research, 40 older adults participated in 10 sessions of playing the Wii balance board for a period of over 3 to 4 months. The results showed a remarkable 15% improvement in balance.