Background/objective: Balance problems are common in older adults with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The objective was to study the effects of a Wii-Fit interactive video-game-led physical exercise program to a walking program on measures of balance in older adults with mild AD.
Methods: A prospective randomized controlled parallel-group trial (Wii-Fit versus walking) was conducted in thirty community-dwelling older adults (73±6.2 years) with mild AD. Home-based exercises were performed under caregiver supervision for 8 weeks. Primary (Berg Balance Scale, BBS) and secondary outcomes (fear of falls and quality of life) were measured at baseline, 8 weeks (end of intervention), and 16 weeks (8-weeks post-intervention).
Results: At 8 weeks, there was a significantly greater improvement (average inter-group difference [95% CI]) in the Wii-Fit group compared to the walking group in BBS (4.8 [3.3-6.2], p < 0.001), after adjusting for baseline. This improvement was sustained at 16 weeks (3.5 [2.0-5.0], p < 0.001). Analyses of the secondary outcome measures indicated that there was a significantly greater improvement in the Wii-Fit group compared to walking group in Activity-specific Balance Confidence scale (6.5 [3.6-9.4], p < 0.001) and Falls Efficacy Scale (-4.8 [-7.6 to -2.0], p = 0.002) at 8 weeks. However, this effect was not sustained at 16 weeks. Quality of life improved in both groups at 8 weeks; however, there were no inter-group differences (p = 0.445).
Conclusion: Home-based, caregiver-supervised Wii-Fit exercises improve balance and may reduce fear of falling in community-dwelling older adults with mild AD.
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; balance; fear of falling; older adults.