11 March 2010

Researchers look at how Nintendo Wii Fit can stop elderly fallers

Colchester Campus

Researchers are looking into a fun solution to the serious issue of elderly people who are recurrent fallers.

The project, which is jointly funded by the University and Colchester Hospital University Foundation Trust, will look into whether the Nintendo Wii Fit improves the balance and quality of life of elderly people who are regular fallers.

With recurrent fallers costing the NHS and Social Services nearly £1 billion every year in terms of inpatient admissions and long-term care costs, it is a real health issue.

There are a number of reasons who some elderly people fall – from frailty and lack of confidence to lack of practice moving about and other mobility issues. However, the knock-on effect can lead to them feeling anxious and less likely to move about, which can have a negative effect on their quality of life and make them feel depressed.

The research, being lead by Dr Murray Griffin and Dr Matthew Taylor, from the Department of Biological Sciences, will be done in conjunction with the falls prevention clinic at Colchester General Hospital, which helps recurrent fallers learn techniques to help them fall less and also how to get up if they do fall.

‘It is all about improving their quality of life and wellbeing so they have more confidence,’ explained Dr Griffin.

One of the biggest problems with many types of physiotherapy aftercare is getting people to do the exercises.

‘But as many people think the Wii is fun, we are hoping more people will do the exercises. If compliance goes up it can have a positive effect on incidences of falling,’ added Dr Murray.

The Wii Fit is also a great research tool for this project as it has a game which focuses on balance, is fun to use, records people’s progress and gives a visual feedback to how they are doing.


For further information or to interview Dr Murray Griffin or Dr Matthew Taylor, please contact the University of Essex Communications Office on 01206 872400 or e-mail comms@essex.ac.uk

...more news releases