Exer-games for rehabilitation in hospital
A recent study from South Australia has explored the ability of so-called 'Exer-games' in helping patients in a rehabilitation hospital to regain their mobility and found a specific beneficial effect on balance.
Older people can easily lose their ability to walk, get in and out of a chair, or tackle stairs for a range of medical reasons, such as stroke, frailty with advancing age, weakness and instability after a hip fracture, or just being 'laid low' after an infection or worseing of existing cardiac/respiratory disease. Any of these sorts of problems can mean people don't get up and about for a prolonged period so they lose their balance skills and exercise capacity.
People with mobility problems due to age or neurological conditions benefit from inpatient rehabilitation, especially if high doses of exercise are used. However, many people admitted to a rehabilitation hospital are inactive for large portions of their day due to limited numbers of physiotherapists and other members of the rehabilitation team.
Interactive computer or video games that are driven by the player's whole body movements (like Wii or X-box Kinect) are known as ‘Exer-games’ and may increase the dosage of exercise within and outside of therapy sessions.
A new study from South Australia shows that:
- Exer-games individually prescribed by a physiotherapist to target each patient's problems and rehabilitation goals could be safely incorporated into inpatient neurological and geriatric rehabilitation;
- Adding Exer-games to usual rehabilitation led to task-specific improvements in balance (but not in overall mobility). The lack of an effect on mobility is disappointing but improvement in balance is valuable for falls prevention.
The results also looked promising for walking speed, stepping and self-rated health status of the participants who used Exer-games, so these will be the topic of subsequent research.
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> From: Van den Berg et al., J Physiother 62 (2016) 20-28. All rights reserved to Elsevier B.V. on behalf of Australian Physiotherapy Association.Click here for the Pubmed summary.