Home-based, video game exercises helped reduce chronic low back pain (LBP) among older people by 27%. This result was comparable to benefits gained under programs supervised by a physiotherapist, suggest researchers from the University of Sydney.

The study, published in the journal Physical Therapy, investigated the effectiveness of self-managed home-based video game exercises among 60 people aged 55 years and older (average age: 67) using a Nintendo Wii-Fit-U.

Structured exercise programs are recommended for the management of chronic LBP, but there is poor compliance to unsupervised home-exercises. Our study, however, had high compliance to video game exercises, with participants completing on average 85 percent of recommended sessions,” says Dr Joshua Zadro, a physiotherapist and postdoctoral research fellow from the University of Sydney School of Public Health, in a media release.

“Video-game exercises are interactive, have video and audio instructions, provide feedback on a patient’s technique and scores them on the basis of their performance. These features are extremely motivating and likely explain why compliance to this program was much higher than other trials that have instructed patients to exercise without supervision.

“These exercise programs could be a unique solution to increase older people’s motivation to self-manage their chronic LBP through home-exercise and improve their ability to continue with their daily activities despite having pain,” Zadro continues, in the release from University of Sydney.

“Given the enormous global cost of chronic low back pain, increasing an individual’s capacity to self-manage their pain, while reducing the need for therapist supervision, should be a priority. Home-based video-game exercises could be a solution to this problem as they reduce reliance on a healthcare system with scare resources,” comments senior author and associate professor Paulo Ferreira, from the University’s Faculty of Health Sciences, in the release.

[Source(s): University of Sydney, EurekAlert]