Use of the Nintendo Wii Fit could help improve the development of children with movement difficulties, according to a research collaboration between Sussex Community NHS Trust, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Trust and academics at Goldsmiths, University of London and Oxford Brookes University, Oxford.
The pilot study, led by Professor Elisabeth Hill from the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths and Dr Dido Green from Oxford Brookes with Dr Ian Male of West Sussex PCT, indicated that regular use of balance games on the Wii Fit could have a positive impact on the motor skills, and related social and emotional behaviour, of children with Developmental Coordination Disorder (DCD).
The research team studied two groups of children with movement difficulties or DCD over a one month period. One group spent ten minutes, three times a week using the Wii Fit during their lunch break, while the other group took part in their regular Jump Ahead programme – a programme aimed at helping children develop motor skills.
The results found significant gains in motor proficiency, the child’s perception of their motor ability and reported emotional well-being for more of the children in the group using the Wii Fit three times a week than those in the group not doing so.
Professor Hill believes the study provides preliminary evidence to support the use of the Wii Fit within therapeutic programmes for children with movement difficulties.
“The results provide interesting points warranting further discussion, particularly in view of the fact that many children have access to the Nintendo Wii Fit and may be using this system at home with minimal supervision. This simple, popular intervention represents a plausible method to support children’s motor and psychosocial development,” she added.
Dr Male commented: “Children with DCD experience poor motor and psychosocial outcomes. Interventions are often limited within the health care 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.
Dr Green added: “These preliminary results highlight the need for further research to inform across these and other questions regarding the implementation of virtual reality technologies in therapeutic services for children with movement difficulties.”
For more information about the Department of Psychology at Goldsmiths, visit http://www.gold.ac.uk/psychology/.