Exercise videogames (exergames) are gaining popularity as tools for improving balance ability in older adults, yet few exergames are suitable for home-based use. The purpose of the current pilot study was to examine the effects of a 6-week unsupervised home-based exergaming training program on balance performance. Ten community dwelling healthy older adults (age: 75.9 ± 7.2 years) played a newly developed ice skating exergame for six weeks at home. In the game, the speed and direction of a virtual ice skater on a frozen canal were controlled using lateral weight shifts, which were captured using Kinect. Sway characteristics during quiet standing in eyes open (EO), eyes closed (EC) and dual task (DT) conditions were assessed in time and frequency domain before, and after two, four and six weeks of training. Balance was also evaluated using the narrow ridge balance test (NRBT). Multilevel modeling was applied to examine changes in balance ability. Participants played 631 (±124) min over the intervention period and no subjects dropped out. Balance in terms of sway characteristics improved on average by 17.4% (EO) and 23.3% (EC) after six weeks of training (p < 0.05). Differences in rate of improvement (p < 0.05) were observed between participants. No intervention effects were found for quiet standing in DT conditions and on the NRBT. In conclusion, the pilot study showed that unsupervised home-based exergaming is feasible in community dwelling older adults, but also that participants do not benefit equally from the program, thereby emphasizing the need for more personalized exergame training programs.
van Diest, M., Stegenga, J., Wörtche, H. J., Verkerke, G. J., Postema, K., & Lamoth, C. J. C. (2016). Exergames for unsupervised balance training at home: A pilot study in healthy older adults. Gait & posture, 44, 161-167. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.11.019