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Using the Nintendo Wii Fit and Body Weight Support to Improve Aerobic Capacity, Balance, Gait Ability, and Fear of Falling: Two Case Reports

Miller, Carol A. PT, PhD, GCS; Hayes, Dawn M. PT, PhD, GCS; Dye, Kelli SPT; Johnson, Courtney SPT; Meyers, Jennifer SPT

Journal of Geriatric Physical Therapy: April/June 2012 - Volume 35 - Issue 2 - p 95–104
doi: 10.1519/JPT.0b013e318224aa38
Case Report

Background & Purpose: Lower limb amputation in older adults has a significant impact on balance, gait, and cardiovascular fitness, resulting in diminished community participation. The purpose of this case study was to describe the effects of a balance training program utilizing the Nintendo Wii™ Fit (Nintendo of America, Inc, Redmond, Washington) balance board and body- weight supported gait training on aerobic capacity, balance, gait, and fear of falling in two persons with transfemoral amputation.

Case Descriptions: Participant A, a 62 year-old male 32 months post traumatic transfemoral amputation, reported fear of falling and restrictions in community activity. Participant B, a 58 year-old male 9 years post transfemoral amputation, reported limited energy and balance deficits during advanced gait activities.

Intervention: 6-weeks, 2 supervised sessions per week included 20 minutes of Nintendo™ Wii Fit Balance gaming and 20 minutes of gait training using Body Weight Support.

Outcomes: Measures included oxygen uptake efficiency slope (OUES), economy of movement, dynamic balance (Biodex platform system), Activities-Specific Balance Confidence (ABC) Scale, and spatial-temporal parameters of gait (GAITRite). Both participants demonstrated improvement in dynamic balance, balance confidence, economy of movement, and spatial-temporal parameters of gait. Participant A reduced the need for an assistive device during community ambulation. Participant B improved his aerobic capacity, indicated by an increase in OUES.

Discussion: This case study illustrated that the use of Nintendo Wii™ Fit training and Body Weight Support were effective interventions to achieve functional goals for improving balance confidence, reducing use of assistive devices, and increasing energy efficiency when ambulating with a transfemoral prosthesis.

Doctorate Program in Physical Therapy, North Georgia College & State University, Dahlonega, Georgia.

Address correspondence to: Carol A. Miller, PT, PhD GCS, Doctorate Program in Physical Therapy, North Georgia College & State University, Dahlonega, GA 30597 (camiller@northgeorgia.edu).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

Copyright © 2012 the Section on Geriatrics of the American Physical Therapy Association
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