New research sponsored by the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (also known as CARDI) suggest that using video games can help the elderly improve their balance and avoid falls that are often devastating and debilitating.
The research was headed up by Professor Cathy Craig of Queen's University Belfast in conjunction with Trinity College Dublin. Using the Wii, Wii Balance Board peripheral, and a game designed specifically for the research project, researchers found that elderly participants showed improvement in balance and gait.
Researchers tested the games on elderly participants in Dublin and Belfast. They found that those who played the games had "significantly greater" improvements in balance control than those test subjects who didn't participate in the video game activity. The researchers concluded that improving balance could play an important role in reducing the risk of falls in older adults.
As anyone with an elderly family member or friend can tell you, a serious fall can cause serious injuries and ultimately have an effect on the social and physical well being of fall victims. According to study research, an estimated 300 elderly patients die each year in Ireland from the aftermath of a serious fall. If a fall doesn't result in death it can often have other long term affects on personal and social activities. This research hopes to discover new ways to help the elderly avoid accidents through being active.
"Improving balance and gait can play an important role in helping older people avoid falls and injury as well as improving their mobility confidence," Professor Craig says. "The games designed in this project to build better balance were formulated with older people in mind. Older people who played the games enjoyed an improvement in both static and dynamic balance."
"This research highlights an engaging way for older people to improve their balance and mobility, helping them to avoid falls and serious injury," said Professor Bob Stout, Co-Chair of CARDI. "This brings great personal benefits for older people and financial gains for society as a whole."
Image via Nintendojo.