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Computerised games for balance training: a pilot study on collegiate females

By J. Wheat, B. Heller and S. Lovick


Sporting and everyday tasks often require effective control of posture. Many studies have assessed interventions used to improve balance and postural control and, recently, interventions based on computer games have been reported (e.g. Betkar et al., 2006). Often, the equipment required for such interventions is expensive and inaccessible. In this study, we present the details of a relatively inexpensive posturally-controlled computer games system suitable for home use and the results of an initial four week intervention using the system. Sixteen healthy, collegiate-aged, adult volunteers were assigned to either an exercise or control group. The exercise group completed a four-week, posture-controlled, computer- game-based intervention. The custom-built system comprised a set of modified electronic weighing scales interfaced to a laptop computer. Custom software calculated the centre of pressure (COP) from the vertical force transducers in the weighing scales. Participants completed three 15 minute training sessions per week in which they played various games (e.g. Pong, Breakout) controlled via the COP. The same games were played by the control group during the same number of sessions but controlled via a mouse. Measures of static (force platform) and dynamic (game score) balance were taken both pre- and post-intervention to evaluate the effectiveness of computer games in improving balance and postural control. Participants in the exercise group improved their performance at the computer games (p < 0.05). The exercise group also showed improvements in static balance with, for example, a reduction in anterior-posterior COP variability during two-legged eyes-open stance (p < 0.05). These improvements were not reflected in the control group. Therefore, this initial study suggests that posture-controlled computer games could be effective in improving balance and postural control. The potential benefits of this approach, in the context of the limitations of the study, will be discussed

Publisher: Springer
Year: 2009
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