Wii Balance Board in Clinical Trials for Stroke and Parkinson Disease
A study by Clark, et al.2009 compared the Wii Balance Board with a laboratory-grade force platform and concluded that the Wii Balance Board was capable of providing the average clinician with a standing balance assessment tool suitable for the clinical setting. (Clark RA, Bryant AL, Pua Y, et al. Validity and reliability of the Nintendo Wii Balance Board for assessment of standing balance. Gait Posture 2009;31(3):307-310.).
The benefit of having this inexpensive and widely available tool for assessing the standing balance of patients is now being studied in conjunction with clinical evaluation of various balance programs using the Wii Balance Board in patients with stroke, Parkinson Disease, and also in healthy elderly subjects.
Anecdotal and small case reports have noted that patients with stroke, imbalance disorders, and those with Parkinson Disease have derived varying degrees of benefit from using the Wii Balance Board and a number of exercise and/or yoga focused games. The publication of a validation assessment reporting clinical comparability of the Wii Balance Board with the specialized laboratory tools has provided impetus for further study. A number of small clinical studies are either in-progress or under development to assess the Wii Balance Board and either commercial Wii games such as those with Yoga exercises or with customized programs in the rehabilitation and geriatric settings.
Perhaps a reason to buy a Wii for our parents and grandparents? Hip fractures from falls is a particularly serious injury in the elderly. Maintaining a strong core and sense of balance is considered important to reducing the number of fall-related permanent impairment events in the elderly.