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An investigation of the impact of regular use of the Wii Fit to improve motor and psychosocial outcomes in children with movement difficulties: a pilot study

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Abstract

Background

Children with Developmental Co-ordination Disorder (DCD) experience poor motor and psychosocial outcomes. Interventions are often limited within the healthcare system, and little is known about how technology might be used within schools or homes to promote the motor skills and/or psychosocial development of these children. This study aimed to evaluate whether short, regular school-based sessions of movement experience using a commercially available home video game console (Nintendo's Wii Fit) would lead to benefits in both motor and psychosocial domains in children with DCD.

Methods

A randomized crossover controlled trial of children with movement difficulties/DCD was conducted. Children were randomly assigned to an intervention (n = 10) or comparison (n = 8) group. The intervention group spent 10 min thrice weekly for 1 month using Wii Fit during the lunch break, while the comparison group took part in their regular Jump Ahead programme. Pre- and post-intervention assessments considered motor proficiency, self-perceived ability and satisfaction and parental assessment of emotional and behavioural problems.

Results

Significant gains were seen in motor proficiency, the child's perception of his/her motor ability and reported emotional well-being for many, but not all children.

Conclusions

This study provides preliminary evidence to support the use of the Wii Fit within therapeutic programmes for children with movement difficulties. This simple, popular intervention represents a plausible method to support children's motor and psychosocial development. It is not possible from our data to say which children are most likely to benefit from such a programme and particularly what the dose and duration should be. Further research is required to inform across these and other questions regarding the implementation of virtual reality technologies in therapeutic services for children with movement difficulties.

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