Background: the study compares the effects of a Nintendo Wii exercise programme and a standard Gym-based exercise intervention on fear of falling, knee strength, physical function and falls rate in older adults.
Methods: eighty community-dwelling adults aged 60 years and above with short physical performance battery score of 5-9 points and modified falls efficacy scale (MFES) score of ≤9 points participated in the parallel-group randomised trial. Each intervention arm involved an hour of intervention per week, totalling 12 sessions over 12 weeks. Besides 1-year fall incidence, the participants were evaluated on MFES, knee extensor strength (KES), timed-up-and-go test, gait speed, 6-minute walk test and narrow corridor walk test at weeks 13 and 24.
Results: at week 13, between interventions, the effect of MFES changes did not reach statistical significance (difference = -0.07 point, 95% CI -0.56 to 0.42, P = 0.78); at week 24, the Wii group showed statistically significant effects over the Gym group (difference = 0.8 point, 95% CI 0.27 to 1.29, P < 0.01). For KES, the two groups did not differ statistically at week 13 (difference = -2.0%, 95% CI -5.6 to -1.7, P = 0.29); at week 24, the Gym group had greater strength gains than the Wii group (difference = -5.1%, 95% CI -8.7 to -1.5, P < 0.01). No between-group differences were observed for other outcome measures.
Conclusion: on completion of a 12-week Nintendo Wii exercise programme, there was no significant benefit seen on fear of falling when compared to a standard Gym-based exercise intervention; however, post-intervention there was an apparent reduction in fear of falling in the group allocated to Wii training, despite knee strength apparently improving more in those allocated to the Gym. It is possible that long-term gains after using the Wii might be due to a carry-over effect.
Trial registration: Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry, ACTRN12610000576022.
Keywords: exercise; fear of falling; functional performance; older people.
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