Nintendo Wii may help improve balance in children with cerebral palsy

Therapy based on the Nintendo® Wii Balance Board can help improve balance in children with cerebral palsy, according to an analysis published in Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology.

Wii Fit for balance and stamina. Watch the video

Wiley Newsroom, EurekAlert! AAAS June 9, 2021

For the analysis, researchers from the University of Jaén, in Andalusia, Spain examined data from all relevant randomized controlled trial published to date. In 11 trials with 270 children with cerebral palsy, there was very low-quality evidence of a large effect of Nintendo® Wii therapy on functional balance (compared with no intervention) and moderate-quality evidence for a benefit to using Nintendo® Wii therapy plus conventional physical therapy (compared with conventional physical therapy alone) in sessions of approximately 30 minutes and interventions lasting longer than 3 weeks.

For dynamic balance (involving balance while in motion or when switching positions), investigators found very low-quality evidence for a medium effect for using Nintendo® Wii therapy plus conventional physical therapy vs. conventional physical therapy alone.

“Our results suggest that Nintendo® Wii therapy may be a useful tool that can be included in neurorehabilitation physiotherapy protocols to improve balance in children with cerebral palsy,” said corresponding author Esteban Obrero-Gaitán PT PhD. “Virtual reality-based rehabilitation using Nintendo® Wii is considered a multi-sensory and active therapy that encourages the child’s participation, increasing motivation and adherence to therapy due to its playful nature. In addition, it is a low-cost tool that can be used at home for therapeutic purposes, a fact that is of great relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Source EurekAlert! AAAS


Wii Fit for Balance and Stamina. I love the new Wii! I will use this to help build my balance! It is really fun. rodnrob1. Youtube Oct 2009

Nintendo Wii Balance Board therapy for postural control in children with cerebral palsy: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Montoro-Cárdenas, D., Cortés-Pérez, I., Zagalaz-Anula, N., Osuna-Pérez, M.C., Obrero-Gaitán, E. and Lomas-Vega, R. (2021), Dev Med Child Neurol. Full text

  Further reading

Virtual Reality in Neurorehabilitation: An Umbrella Review of Meta-Analyses, Voinescu A, Sui J, Stanton Fraser D. J Clin Med. 2021 Apr 2;10(7):1478. doi: 10.3390/jcm10071478. Full text

Video games as a rehabilitation strategy for children with cerebral palsy, Shivangi Bajpai. MS thesis in Rehabilitation Science, Faculty of Rehabitlation, University of Alberta 2020. UofA Library PDF

Effect of Wii training on hand function in children with hemiplegic cerebral palsy, El-Shamy SM PhD, PT, El-Banna MF PhD, PT. Physiother Theory Pract. 2020 Jan;36(1):38-44. doi: 10.1080/09593985.2018.1479810. Epub 2018 May 24.

The Rehabilitative Effects of Virtual Reality Games on Balance Performance among Children with Cerebral Palsy: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials, Wu J, Loprinzi PD, Ren Z. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019 Oct 28;16(21):4161. doi: 10.3390/ijerph16214161. Full text

Combining balance-training interventions with other active interventions may enhance effects on postural control in children and adolescents with cerebral palsy: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Araújo PA, Starling JMP, Oliveira VC, Gontijo APB, Mancini MC. Braz J Phys Ther. 2020 Jul-Aug;24(4):295-305. doi: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2019.04.005. Epub 2019 May 3. Full text

Effectiveness of interactive computer play on balance and postural control for children with cerebral palsy: A systematic review, Pin TW. Gait Posture. 2019 Sep;73:126-139. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2019.07.122. Epub 2019 Jul 6.

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Balance and mobility training at home using Wii Fit in children with cerebral palsy: a feasibility study, Chiu HC, Ada L, Lee SD. BMJ Open. 2018 May 15;8(5):e019624. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019624. Full text. Erratum: BMJ Open. 2018 Jul 16;8(7):bmjopen-2017-019624corr1. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019624corr1. eCollection 2018.

The contribution of Nintendo Wii Fit series in the field of health: a systematic review and meta-analysis, Tripette J, Murakami H, Ryan KR, Ohta Y, Miyachi M. PeerJ. 2017 Sep 5;5:e3600. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3600. Full text

Does Nintendo Wii Balance Board improve standing balance? A randomized controlled trial in children with cerebral palsy, Gatica-Rojas V, Méndez-Rebolledo G, Guzman-Muñoz E, Soto-Poblete A, Cartes-Velásquez R, Elgueta-Cancino E, Cofré Lizama LE. Eur J Phys Rehabil Med. 2017 Aug;53(4):535-544. doi: 10.23736/S1973-9087.16.04447-6. Epub 2016 Nov 24.

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Patient perspectives on virtual reality-based rehabilitation after knee surgery: Importance of level of difficulty, Lee M, Suh D, Son J, Kim J, Eun SD, Yoon B. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2016;53(2):239-52. doi: 10.1682/JRRD.2014.07.0164. PDF

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A Wii Bit of Fun: A Novel Platform to Deliver Effective Balance Training to Older Adults, Whyatt C, Merriman NA, Young WR, Newell FN, Craig C. Games Health J. 2015 Dec;4(6):423-33. doi: 10.1089/g4h.2015.0006. Epub 2015 Oct 15. Full text

The effect of the Nintendo Wii Fit on balance control and gross motor function of children with spastic hemiplegic cerebral palsy, Jelsma J, Pronk M, Ferguson G, Jelsma-Smit D. Dev Neurorehabil. 2013;16(1):27-37. doi: 10.3109/17518423.2012.711781. Epub 2012 Oct 3.

Prevalence and correlates of exergaming in youth, O’Loughlin EK, Dugas EN, Sabiston CM, O’Loughlin JL. Pediatrics. 2012 Nov;130(5):806-14. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-0391. Epub 2012 Oct 1.

Lean on Wii: Physical Rehabilitation With Virtual Reality and Wii Peripherals, Fraser Anderson, Michelle Annet, Walter F. Bishoff. 2010. Department of Computing Science, University of Alberta. PDF

Also see
Training on Wii Console Increases Grip Strength, Improves Hand Function in CP Kids, Study Finds Cerebral Palsy News Today
Dance Dance Revolution makes a difference in kids’ physical activity levels Science Daily
Wii Fit Improves Balance in Children with CP (Study) ExerGame Lab
Gaming Technology in Neurological Rehabilitation Physiopedia

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