A physiotherapist-supported exercise program using Nintendo Wii may be a feasible and cost-effective way of helping people with multiple sclerosis (MS) be more physically active, researchers reported after performing a small pilot study.
While findings showed some evidence that people improved — both in terms of self-reported health, gait and balance measurements — researchers underscored that more data needs to be gathered on the intervention’s effectiveness, as the study mainly intended to determine if such a program was feasible.
Researchers at the Bournemouth University and Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, both in the U.K., argued that a physical activity intervention using active gaming at home may overcome the many challenges MS patients face when attempting to be active.
Barriers to it could be physical, but psychological factors, such as fear, embarrassment, or lack of confidence, can also prevent patients from attempting to increase their activity levels. Moreover, practical aspects — such as transport and cost — can hinder people from joining interventions.
In the report, “Mii-vitaliSe: a pilot randomised controlled trial of a home gaming system (Nintendo Wii) to increase activity levels, vitality and well-being in people with multiple sclerosis,” researchers explained they used data generated in earlier Nintendo Wii studies to design an improved intervention program.
Earlier studies showed that behavior change techniques, including motivational interviews and problem solving, would likely improve the impact of an intervention. These early studies also highlighted the importance of considering the functional levels, environment, and preferences of individual patients when prescribing a Wii-based program.
The study (ISRCTN49286846), described in the journal BMJ Open, shows that among the 30 people who signed up, only two dropped out because of medical reasons. Patients either received the 12-month intervention, called Mii-vitaliSe, directly or after a six-month waiting period. Those on the waiting list group were given six months of intervention.
Patients, who had low levels of physical activity when the study began, were instructed as to the benefits of physical activity and on how to use the Wii.
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