Could Commercial Video Games be Used in Physical Rehabilitation? A Systematic Review

B. Bonnechère, B. Jansen, L. Omelina and S. Van Sint Jan in Rehab Science & Technology Update 2016 Congress


Introduction: The way of playing video games has been modified over the last decade from a passive to an active way. The players have to move in order to interact with the games. Therefore clinicians have tried to integrate such kind of games within conventional physical rehabilitation. However the efficacy and safety of such kind of interventions is still not clear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of the use of commercial video games (VG) in physical rehabilitation.

Method: A systematic literature review was conducted. Since one of the objectives of the study was to determine which patients are most likely to benefit from these interventions, there was no restriction to any particular pathology. The following database were screened: Medline, SAGE journals online, Science Direct using a combination of the following free-text terms: “commercial games”, “video games”, “exergames”, “rehabilitation games”, “PlayStation”, “Nintendo”, “Wii”, “Wii Fit”, “Xbox”, “Kinect”. The search was limited to English-language, peer-reviewed journals. There was no restriction for the beginning of the prospected time frame, which ended on the 1st January 2015 not included. Inclusion criteria for this review were studies about the use of VG in physical rehabilitation. RCT and cohort studies related to physical activities and motor control before and after interventions were included.

Results: 4353 abstracts were screened, 263 were reviewed and 132 papers were finally included. From the selected studies the following information was extracted: device type, the number and type of patients, the intervention and the main outcomes of the study. The integration of VG in physical rehabilitation has been tested for various pathological conditions: stroke, cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s disease, balance training, weight loss, aging… Due to highly heterogeneous protocol (number of sessions, duration of the intervention, outcome measures, sample size…) comparison between studies was difficult. Generally speaking, the introduction of VG training in rehabilitation offers similar results as conventional therapy.

Conclusion: VG could be added as adjunctive treatment in rehabilitation of various pathologies to stimulate patients’ motivation VG could also be used at home in order to maintain benefits of rehabilitation.


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