Wii "fit" for balance rehabilitation and Balance Assessment.
This page is primarily intended to be a reference for patients
who have been referred for vestibular therapy.
Timothy C. Hain,
MD• Page last modified:
July 30, 2022
The Nintendo "Wii" is a video-gaming device that has been used as an adjunct to vestibular rehabilitation therapy. The "Wii" is very well suited to rehabilitation because rather than interacting with a computer keyboard or "mouse", users wave around a "Wii-mote" (see image below left) which is shown on the TV as something actually moving - -such as a tennis racket, etc. The "Wii-fit" program is a recent addition to the "Wii" stable of programs, and incorporates a balance board that can be used for training.
This device was popular in the late 2000's, and there are now newer similar devices that may be more important. There is a substantial literature documenting that the Wii impoves balance (e.g. Morrison et al, 2018; Jahn et al, 2018; Gomes et al, 2018).
The same device can also be used for balance assessment with good results (e.g. Clark et al, 2018; Mengarelli et al, 2018).
Balance games include
- Soccer Heading
- Ski Jump
- Ski Slalom
- Snowboard Slalom
- Table Tilt - The player must shift balance to get balls into holes.
- Tightrope Walk - The player must cross a tightrope avoiding the snapjaws.
- Balance Bubble - The player attempts to navigate down a river in a bubble without bursting it on the sides.
- Penguin Slide - The player has to catch fish while balanced on a piece of ice.
- Lotus Focus (also known as "Zazen") - The player must remain motionless while looking at a flame.
|Wii Balance board
||Person standing on balance board
There are always safety issues with balancing exercises, and this device is no exception.
One of our patients who had had a labyrinthectomy for Meniere's disease wrote to us:
- I would strongly recommend the Wii. I have begun to show steady improvement. I am not sure that the improvement transfers to daily life, but I think it does. Once set up. it is easy to use and motivating. I engage in the balance and aerobic exercises daily. There are also yoga and strength exercises. ALL the exercise provide ways to coordinate vision and balance and ways to receive feedback about your own vision and balance. Also, engaging in the exercises that are not specifically targeted at balance builds core strength and improves over-all health. These exercises can be done safely at home. I am unable to walk at an aerobic pace outside. I cannot walk outside at all if it is dark or icy. The Wii has given me a way to do that. The total cost of the package is about $300. You have to buy the Wii and the Wii Fit. It is really worth it if people can come close to affording it. If patients are afraid of the technology involved, just tell the that any niece, nephew, or high school kid they know could set it up and help them use it.
- Clark, R. A., et al. (2018). "Reliability and validity of the Wii Balance Board for assessment of standing balance: A systematic review." Gait Posture 61: 40-54.
- Gomes, G. C. V., et al. (2018). "Feasibility, safety, acceptability, and functional outcomes of playing Nintendo Wii Fit Plus(TM) for frail older adults: A randomized feasibility clinical trial." Maturitas 118: 20-28.
- Jahn, K., et al. (2018). "Vestibular rehabilitation therapy and Nintendo Wii balance board training both improve postural control in bilateral vestibulopathy." J Neurol 265(Suppl 1): 70-73.
- Mengarelli, A., et al. (2018). "Validity of the Nintendo Wii Balance Board for the Assessment of Balance Measures in the Functional Reach Test." IEEE Trans Neural Syst Rehabil Eng 26(7): 1400-1406.
- Morrison, S., et al. (2018). "Supervised Balance Training and Wii Fit-Based Exercises Lower Falls Risk in Older Adults With Type 2 Diabetes." J Am Med Dir Assoc 19(2): 185 e187-185 e113.