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Playing the Wii Fit can help elderly patients recover from falls

Nintendo Wii Fit Photo: ITV Anglia

Researchers at the University of Essex have found that the Nintendo Wii Fit can help improve the mobility of elderly people who regularly fall over.

The research found it improved their flexibility and mobility after using it, compared to patients who did not.

The project, which was jointly funded by the University and Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust, monitored patients who were taking part in a seven-week falls prevention exercise group at Colchester General Hospital, which in addition to improving strength and balance, helps recurrent fallers learn techniques to help them fall less and also how to get up if they do fall.

"It's very exciting to be able to utilise technology to enable older people to have fun and enjoy new challenges whilst improving balance reactions and reducing risk of falls."

– Rebecca Impson, Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust

Recurrent fallers cost the NHS nearly £1.7 billion every year in terms of inpatient admissions and long-term care costs.

The research has been a springboard for a wide range of 'exer-gaming' projects led by Dr Murray Griffinand Dr Matthew Taylor, from the University's School of Biological Sciences.

Dr Griffin said looking deeper into the benefits of 'exer-gaming' for all sections of the population was an obvious one.

"Fallers are most concerned about their quality of life. Developing an intervention that improves this, is clearly very valuable."

– Dr Murray Griffin, from the University's School of Biological Sciences

"Our initial research has given one answer but added 100 questions to the possible benefits of 'exer-gaming' so this is an interesting area for us to look at further."

– Dr Matthew Taylor, from the University's School of Biological Sciences
95 year-old Arthur Drew from Clacton using the balance board Credit: ITV Anglia

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