Nintendo Wii Can Help Multiple Sclerosis Patients Improve Strength

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IN PHOTO: A person plays a video game at a Sony PlayStation in the Sony's flagship store in Berlin, April 27, 2011. Reuters/Thomas Peter

A study that was made by the researchers in Italy found that people suffering from multiple sclerosis (MS) can improve their balance with an interactive video game system, as reported by Live Science.

MS is a disease where the protective coating around nerve fibers from the body is attacked by the immune system, that most patients suffering from this kind of disease results in muscle weakness, difficulty in walking and lack of balance.

The study involved 27 people between the ages of 18 and 50 that is suffering from MS. For a span of 12 weeks, they indulged in 30-minutes of Wii Fit Plus balance training five times in a week. 

It was found through brain scans, both, before and after the training, that the training aimed at a particular symptom such as balance and was highly effective, resulting in inducing the brain's ability to change its structure post training.

The research found that people suffering from mild-to-moderate symptoms of MS and exercised with the Nintendo Wii balance board system for twelve weeks showed more positive changes in the areas of the brain that is responsible for balance than those who received no such training.

The gaming system could prevent the patients from falling as the sensors on the balance board, where the people stand on do exercises, gives them feedback on their movements and how accurate they are.

A neurologist at Sapienza University in Italy and study author, Dr. Luca Prosperini, explained that the study was able to find that there were improvements in the protective coating of the nerves in the areas of the brain that involve balance and movement and that the improvements showed that there is better nerve signal transmission in the brain.

Dr. Prosperini continued that the improvements noticed due to the Wii balance board can, to a great extent, reduce the risk of accidental falls hence resulting in lesser fractures and injuries.

The director of the North Shore-LIJ Multiple Sclerosis Care Center in New York, said that this study is an important one for patients suffering from MS as it has proved scientifically that the brain responds to balance training.

The findings were published on the internet in the journal Radiology last August 26.

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