Motion control video games may help children with degenerative ataxia

Children suffering from degenerative ataxia – a neurological condition that results in a gross lack of coordination of muscle movement – may benefit from playing video games that require the whole body to control what's happening in the game, according to research conducted by the University of Tübingen in Germany.

The study, led by Winfried Ilg, found that children were much more receptive to the novelty of "interactive and motivational" treatment rather than lengthy physiotherapy sessions. Effective treatments for ataxia are currently lacking, and while regular physiotherapy can improve ataxia symptoms in adults, it was found that children had a tendency to be unmotivated to attend frequent physio sessions.

The study was conducted with 10 adolescents who suffered from progressive spinocerebellar ataxia and substituted physiotherapy with three whole-body controlled video games. While the study did not reveal which games or motion control devices were used, the study does say that the games were chosen based on "motor skills required to play them and aimed to train goal-directed limb movement, dynamic balance and whole-body coordination."

The study was carried out over an eight week period with study participants playing the games under laboratory conditions in the first two weeks and at home for the remaining six weeks. They were asked to train for an hour at least four times a week.

The study found that after eight weeks of playing motion-controlled games the participants experienced a significant reduction in ataxia symptoms, with balance capacity improving significantly.

Ilg said of the study: "...our findings already indicate a highly motivational, cost-efficient and home-based rehabilitation strategy to train dynamic balance and interaction with dynamic environments that might be useful for a large variety of young-onset movement disorders."

Ilg and his co-authors say that further research is needed.

More from Polygon

The horror of Five Nights at Freddy's

  • Dark Souls 2: Crown of the Old Iron King Overview

  • Spacecom: a fast 4X built for multiplayer

  • Pillars of Eternity builds on role-playing classics

  • Tour the 1 KB hard drive built inside Minecraft

Latest Discussions

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new Polygon username and password

As part of the new Polygon launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to Polygon going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.



Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.