A recent small study carried out at the University of Georgia studied 20 parkinson’s patients and asked them to play Wii for an hour 3 times a week for 4 weeks. They were asked to play tennis, bowling and boxing, at home.
The Study results claim:
- An improvement in their balance, which helps prevent falls that are common with Parkinson’s
- That it’s more convenient than going to the gym and some people don’t feel confident in that environment
- That you can track your progress through the exercises, which helps keep you motivated
- That the social side of using the Wii with family and friends, combined with the adrenaline, really helps improve mood and combat the anxiety and depression that many people with Parkinson’s experience
For some time there has been interest throughout the rehabilitation world about the use of computer systems like the Wii to aid patient recovery and management. So can Wii help combat Parkinson’s?
Queen’s University Belfast’s Dr Cathy Craig,has just received a grant of nearly £35,000 from Parkinson’s UK, to investigate the console’s possible benefits to sufferers of Parkinson’s. The charity has invested in this research because it has received overwhelming feedback from people with Parkinson’s who are finding that using a Wii is a really good way to exercise at home and has helped them with their balance, movements and mood.
In a recent survey of Parkinson’s sufferers, 68% of respondents claimed they felt the console helped them manage their symptoms better, so Dr Craig hopes that the research can help to prove the machine’s benefits for development into a specific training programme:
“Our hope is to harness the benefits of the Wii technology to develop a system designed specifically for people with Parkinson’s. If the project is successful the benefits could be twofold. It could allow us to develop a simple way to assess Parkinson’s symptoms yet provide a safe and effective way for people with the condition to be more active and keep fit.”
The research aims to address two questions:
- Does the use of the Wii system improve the physical abilities and lifestyle of people with Parkinson’s?
- How do the various games improve specific symptoms of Parkinson’s including tremor, slowness of movement and balance?
The Parkinson warriors here at the centre have already been using large amplitude movements and high intensity activities such as boxing and cycling. Evidence suggest that this form of activity can slow the clinical progression of the disease, that exercise is neuro protective and can improve movement, mobility and independence as well as delay secondary complications of a sedentary lifestyle.