Potential Benefits of Nintendo Wii Fit Among People with Multiple Sclerosis A Longitudinal Pilot Study

International Journal of MS Care. 2011;13:21–3

Matthew Plow, PhD; Marcia Finlayson, PhD, OT(C), OTR/L

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Abstract

We examined the potential of Nintendo Wii Fit (Nintendo Co, Ltd, Kyoto, Japan) to increase physical activity (PA) behavior and health among people with multiple sclerosis (MS). The study consisted
of a repeated-measures design with a baseline control period and involved 30 people with MS who
had the ability to walk 25 feet with or without a cane (26 individuals were included in the analyses).
Nintendo Wii was set up in the homes of participants, who were prescribed a Wii Fit exercise program lasting 14 weeks, 3 days a week. The Physical Activity and Disability Survey, Modified Fatigue
Impact Scale, and 36-item Short Form Health Status Survey were administered three times before
participants gained access to Wii Fit (control period, at 2-week intervals), and three times after they
received Wii Fit (posttest 1: immediately after; posttest 2: 7 weeks after; posttest 3: 14 weeks after).
Mobility, balance, strength, and weight were assessed at the first pretest, immediately prior to obtaining access to Wii Fit, and 7 weeks after obtaining access to Wii Fit. Results from the questionnaires
indicated that PA significantly improved at week 7, but at week 14, PA levels declined relative to week
7 and the difference was no longer significant compared with the control period. Physical assessments
indicated that balance and strength significantly improved at week 7. One adverse event was reported
(repetitive knee injury). Physical assessments indicated that people with MS may be able to improve
their fitness levels by using Wii Fit. Future studies should incorporate behavior change strategies to
promote long-term use of Wii Fit, and explore whether individuals with more severe symptoms of MS
can safely use Wii Fit.

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