The role of exergaming in Parkinson’s disease rehabilitation: a systematic review of the evidence

Gillian Barry, Brook Galna, Lynn Rochester

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

193 Citations (Scopus)
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Evidence for exercise based computer games (exergaming) as a rehabilitation tool for people with Parkinson’s disease (PD) is only now emerging and is yet to be synthesised. To this end, we conducted a systematic review of the exergaming literature to establish what is known about the safety, feasibility and effectiveness of exergaming for rehabilitation of motor symptoms experienced by people with PD. Seven electronic databases were searched for key terms surrounding exergaming and PD. Data were extracted by two reviewers independently. From an initial yield of 1217 articles, seven were included in the review. Six studies used commercial games with the Nintendo Wii fit platform. The scientific quality of reporting was generally good, however the overall methodological design of studies was weak, with only one randomised controlled trial being reported. Safety: Participant safety was not measured in any of the studies. Feasibility: People with PD were able to play exergames, improve their performance of gameplay and enjoyed playing. However, one study observed that people with PD had difficulty with fast and complex games. Effectiveness: Six studies showed that exergaming elicited improvements in a range of clinical balance measures or reduction in the severity of motor symptoms. Results from the only randomised controlled trial showed that exergaming was as effective as traditional balance training for people with PD to improve the UPDRS II, standing balance and cognition, with improvements in both groups retained 60 days after the training ended. In conclusion, exergaming is an emerging tool to help rehabilitate motor skills in people with PD. Although we were able to establish that exergaming is feasible in people with PD, more research is needed to establish its safety and clinical effectiveness, particularly in the home. The use of commercial games may be too difficult for some people with PD and exergames tailored specifically to the rehabilitation needs and capabilities of people with PD are required for optimal efficacy, adherence and safety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-42
JournalJournal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Mar 2014


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