Henri Hurkmans, PhD, is a senior researcher at the department of Physical Therapy of Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam, The Netherlands. He studied Biomedical Health Sciences at Radboud University, Nijmegen, and has a PhD in Medicine and Health Sciences. His research interest’s focuses on technology based interventions (e.g. online physical therapy and exergaming) to improve and maintain physical activity, fitness, and motor function of patients in a (pre-, post-) clinical setting.
Wii Fit balance training in outpatient people with subacute stroke
Balance impairments are frequently seen following a stroke, which have a great impact on walking ability and activities of daily living, and can lead to an increased risk of falling. Conventional balance therapy is effective in improving balance during rehabilitation of patients with subacute stroke. However, most conventional balance exercises rely on the repetition of specific movements and postures, which patients may perceive as dull and not challenging. This can lead to a lack of motivation and interest, which can result in a decrease of exercise adherence, and subsequently a low therapy effect. Indeed, 25-37% of the patients do not perform the recommended amount of balance exercises. In the last decade, video game based technology has become popular for use in rehabilitation settings, due to its motivational and enjoyable aspects. As enjoyment and intrinsic motivation are positively correlated, this may lead to an increase in therapy adherence and eventually to an increase in therapy effects. Several studies have focused on the effect of the Wii Fit as a balance-training tool in stroke rehabilitation. These have all been conducted in a controlled and supervised setting, resulting in an adherence of 100%. However, after discharge from a hospital or rehabilitation center, patients need to continue exercising. Adherence becomes even more important in this phase of rehabilitation. I will present the results of an RCT in which the effectiveness of Wii Fit balance training on balance, in patients with subacute stroke, conducted in an outpatient setting was assessed.