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Wii Balance Board may help Parkinson’s patients, researchers say

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The Nintendo Wii's Balance Board may help Parkinson's patients regain balance control, according to a study reported by Medpage Today.

According to research professor Antonella Peppe at the Fondazione Santa Lucia in Rome, the Wii is "an excellent tool that can compete with other devices" in terms of rehabilitation.

"The ability of the Wii Balance Board to stimulate the central nervous system makes it potentially useful in the rehabilitation of balance problems in patients with Parkinson's disease," Peppe said.

The study, which used participants with an average age of 63, found that patients using the Wii in addition to regular exercise cycling and on a treadmill were able to increase their balance and gait. However, researchers said that the pilot study lacked a control group and was therefore limited.

Jennifer Trilk, PhD and clinical assistant professor of biomedical sciences at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in Greenville, suggested that patients who made gait improvements were likely benefiting from the treadmill and cycling exercises. Trilk added that the Balance Board's narrow configuration could be limiting for general use in patients.

The Wii has been used in health-related exercises before, including training inexperienced surgeons. The Xbox 360's Kinect has also been found to help stroke patients develop motor skills.